NLP, Profiling, Attitudes and Business

Recently I’ve seen several articles describing NLP metaprograms as measuring attitudes in a ‘personality’ profile.

Personally, I see metaprograms as unconscious filters which influence our everyday choices.

NLP MetaprogramsFor example:

  • Your position on the ‘towards – away from’ spectrum will influence what motivates you.
  • Your position on the ‘proactive – reactive’ spectrum will dictate the minimum threshold for your actions.
  • Your position on the ‘internal – external’ metaprogram will influence how you prefer to experience feedback.

These are filters or habitual tendencies of focus rather than attitudes.


Attitude is a complex emotional judgement, proposed to be based on 3 components (Affect, Behaviour and Cognition)

Affect = what we feel
Behaviour = what we do
Cognition = mental processes

Experimental validation of this proposition:

Group attitudes:

Metaprograms are part of the cognition element and therefore just a small part of attitude. And attitude is a subset of personality, which is what some profiling systems claim to measure. Given the complexity involved, I’d suggest most simple metrics are (at best) stereotypes. And that can be okay, as long as we recognise where the limits are.

So what does a metaprogram profile actually measure or reveal?

My opinion is that it reveals aptitude for specific (cognitive) tasks. For example, if you’re hiring salespeople based on the profile of a top performer in that firm, a close match on relevant indicators indicates a candidate with aptitude for those tasks.

However, it does not reveal whether the person has an appropriate temperament (affect) for the job. Nor does it reveal whether they can do the job (behaviour). These would also need to be measured to create a reliable selection profile.

Bear in mind that a mis-hire can also be defined in severity by analysing these factors.

  • A mismatch in affect is potentially the most serious.
  • A mismatch in aptitude will usually result in the employee quitting or failing to get their contract renewed.
  • A mismatch in behaviour can usually be corrected with the right training.

It’s easy to see, then, that our NLP skills can change attitude quite readily – and from a number of different angles.

What is your view on NLP, attitude and personality? You comments are welcome.

NLP, Profiling, Attitudes and Business by
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