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MBTI Metaprograms


What is the correlation between MBTI types and the metaprograms?


Meta programs are our habitual ways of inputting, sorting and filtering our world. They are our typical patterns and strategies or thinking styles.

Michael Hall sees them as our frames of mind used in processing. There is no “real set” of Meta Programs – they are always evolving – the names change and the usefulness changes with the context.

The Meta part is because they are the programs, which guide and direct other processes. While Wyatt Woodsmall and Tad James originally coded 20 Meta programs in their book “Time Line Therapy and the Basis of Personality”, we could think of any habitual behavior pattern as a Meta program. For instance, someone might use the visual representation system more than any other system across many contexts.

Richard Bandler developed the original Meta programs and Leslie Cameron Bandler codified them for therapeutic use. We wouldn’t recognize many of these as Meta Programs today (such as Satir Categories and classification of information)

Roger Bailey and Ross Stewart extended their use to business and developed profiling instruments such as LAB. They included things like Rules (my rules for me etc)

Dr Wyatt Woodsmall further developed Meta Programs for use in business and therapy. His set of Meta Programs in his 1988 publication “Metaprograms” included:

  • Judgers and Perceivers
  • Sensors and Intuitors
  • Secondary Interest Filters
  • Active and Passive
  • Idealist/ pragmatist/ realist
  • Follower and leader

Michael Hall codes 60 Meta Programs into 4 categories in his book “Figuring Out People”

Thinking that any habitual behavior pattern is a Meta Program, can take away the whole point of having 20 or so codified Meta Programs – that we can spot them in others and use them to predict their behavior. Knowing that someone is convinced by written information means you can give them what they need.

MBTI types are also common ways of inputting, sorting and filtering. Many in the business community use MBTI the same way NLP Practitioners use Meta Programs. Many in the NLP community include them as essential Meta programs, along with Satir Categories and Clare Graves values hierarchy.

Some MBTI correlations with “traditional” Meta Programs

  • The Sensing Intuiting modes of processing relate to Up-Time and Down Time.
  • Thinking Feeling is about how we decide – using logic or values, although there is some overlap with association and dissociation (not usually considered a Meta Program)
  • Perceiver is associated most frequently with thru time (ordered and sequential). One of the easiest ways to make a switch to a perceiver pattern therefore is to change the time line from thru time to in time.
  • Judger is associated most frequently with in time (flexibility, spontaneity and creativity). One of the easiest ways to switch a perceiver pattern is therefore to change from in time to thru time.

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