Personality is not who we are but what we do.”

L. Michael Hall



Hall & Bodenhamer (2005) and Woodmall (1988) are still considering between metaprograms and Jung’s classical concepts: Sensing / Intuition (metaprogram no. 2, Epistemological), introversion/extraversion (metaprogram no. 26, Rejuvenation), judging/perceiving (metaprogram no. 37, adaption), which according to the correspondence analyses (Gambardella, 2008; Merlevede, 2000), underlie other metaprograms and are in reality, as per Alexandrescu’s definition (2008), meta-types, a term introduced for the first time by Woodsmall (1988) and close to the definition given by Athanasiu and Constantin (2006) for the type.

In the ancient theatre, there is a restricted number of roles; each can be recognized employing its mask, and a particular behavioral style and a right kind correspond to each. The type is thus defined either through an entirety of particular reactions or a specific structure of its personality. We could say that the type is an example of a model that has certain traits specific to a group, a schematic representation of what the essence of an individual is” (p.12)

For instance, I have shown that the presumed metaprogram self-esteem defined by Hall & Bodenhamer (2005) is a meta-type. This complex structure does not correspond to the trait “fundamental and indivisible brick” of the meta-program. His research, performed between 2007-2010, proves the contradiction with Hall & Bodenhamer’s theory (2005) regarding self-esteem and confirms the multiscalar hypothesis formulated by Lelorde and Andre (1999). The research demonstrates, however, the distinction between self-esteem as a meta-type and self-confidence as a metaprogram and supports the observations made by Hall & Bodenhamer (2005) on the difference between narcissism / vain and self-esteem.

Meta-type, as a technical term, has the following meaning: The entirety of specific traits, well-differentiated and refined, which make up solid psychometrical scales and compound concepts defined in the literature as dominant for the attitudes, cognitionsmotivations, behaviors, and the expression through the language used by a certain individual predominantly, to such an extent that he or she is easy to recognize irrespective of the context in which it operates.

It is about behavioral programs created through education, habit, training, or trauma (PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder). These are valid in all contexts (cross-contextual) and are unconscious structures of reasoning and behavior which each person possesses. It represents the entirety of the experiences using which the individual chooses to relate to the external stimuli. A taxonomy of meta-types is a universal classification system of behavioral trends that can be found, to a larger or smaller extent, in anybody’s subconscious.

(keep reading ↓)


The multidimensional psychometrical scaling

Meta-types can be:

  • Dichotomous scales (unidimensional – such as the 4 fundamental dichotomies of Jung and Myers-Briggs Types Inventory);
  • Two-dimensional scales (such as Job Satisfaction Survey, which uses the Two-Factor Theory);
  • Three-dimensional scales (such as the model developed by Raymond Cattell for CPI) or
  • multidimensional scales (as Woodsmall & Woodsmall suggested in 1998 for structuring)

These scales can be made up of subscales and factors/facets. Meta-types measure heterogeneous multidimensional concepts, which can be structured and researched through advanced research designs to capture their structure and correlations.

Any dichotomous metaprograms (made up of two abstract classes found at the extremities of a continuous interval) can be measured bipolar two-dimensionally, not only unidimensionally. This is performed using a research design in which the specific statements, and items for those metaprograms, measure each of the dichotomies on a different and separate continuum. The two can be reunited under the same continuum, but by utilizing this approach, they provide more information.


Which is the difference between unidimensional scaling and two-dimensional scaling?

A facet that measures, for instance, the metaprogram Thinking scenario, can measure the opposition between pessimism – optimism on a unique continuum with a score from -2 to +2. This is the unidimensional perspective. The same facet can measure the same concept, broken into two continuums: one for pessimism, with a score of -2 to 0, and one for optimism, with a score from 0 to 2.

The way this difference is implemented may be more complex. Thus, to get a scoring, for the unidimensional scaling, a single item (one question) is enough, while for the two-dimensional scaling, two things are needed.

The methodological principle is shown by Merlevede (2002) and has also been used in sizing the psychometrical battery Identity Compass by Maus (2006).

Meta-types are not specific to an area or a field, but most of them, the most well-known, come from the psychology of personality, NLP, and AT. A historical approach that can be used as a premise for understanding what a meta-type is is offered by Woodsmall (1988) under the suggestive title Wyatt Woodsmall’s Meta Programming Cookbook or Everything you ever wanted to know about sorting principles and were afraid to ask.

Of course, as anybody can find, the USA and Germany are the most prolific countries in the world in preparing and testing the psychometric instruments for evaluating the psychology of personality in organizational, clinical, and psychotherapeutic contexts, with over 5000 working instruments at present, based on hundreds of theories and tens of thousands of psychometric researches in the personality psychology.

Understanding a meta-type is not conditioned by its sizing, as proof that personality psychology, psychometrically investigated, has historically started with very general ample concepts that have successfully served the organizational diagnosis. However, there are certain limits: the structuring of the meta-types has never succeeded in offering a scientifically valid explanation for what is popularly known as learning styles, as Lillienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio & Beyerstein (2010) note, or motivation. This scientific validation has come with a squaring of the number of variables and sizes with which a psychometric instrument operates, proving to employ the iWAM and Identity Compass results (I wrote here in Romanian a review of them) how the key of understanding essential structures such as motivation, management, leadership, and learning styles does not consist in a restricted number of concepts but a number as large as possible of strategically organized concepts, so that they would make up a map that would be as close to the individual’s psychic as possible.

One of the most representative aspects of meta-types is that meta-types can be decomposed into irreducible concepts called metaprograms. Just as a cell can be decomposed to be studied, in a similar manner, a meta-type can be decomposed to be studied into its constitutive metaprograms.

For some of these meta-types, there is already research certifying the correlation. For others, hypotheses have only been formulated.

References in alphabetic order

Grant, Marcus Victor (2008). Filtering distinctions, metaprograms, and meta types, The Metaprograms Experts Group, p. 6;

Grant, Marcus Victor (2011), The psychometric measurement of self-esteem (dissertation), National School of Political and Administrative Studies Bucharest, summary here;

Athanasiu, Andrei; Constantin, Radu (2006). Caracterologia şi Grafologia/Characterology and Graphology. 2nd edition, Editura Tehnică, Bucureşti, Romania p. 12;

Gambardella, Pascal (2008). MetaProgram references and Rosetta Stone, in Perceptual Genius Training, Washington, USA, 2008, pp. 3-4;

Hall, Michael. L, Bodenhamer, Bobby G. (2005). Figuring Out People. Design Engineering with Meta-Programs, Crown House Publishing, Ltd, Bancyfelin, Carmarthen, Wales, UK, pp 92-93; pp. 232-234;

Lelorde, Francois, & Andre, Christophe (1998). L’Estime de soi : S’aimer pour mieux vivre avec les autres, Odile Jacob publishing house, Paris, France;

Lillienfeld, Scott O; Lynn, Steven Jay; Ruscio, John; Beyerstein, Barry L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009;

Maus, H.Arne (2006). Identity Compass Training Manual for Consultants, Identity Compass International, GMBH, Hamburg, Germania;

Merlevede, Patrick (2000). Putting NLP Metaprograms Research in context: Studying the scientific validity of NLP, retrieved from ;

Merlevede, Patrick (2002). Beyond Flatland, JobEQ, 2002, retrieved from ;

Woodsmall, Marilyne; Woodsmall, Wyatt (1998). People Pattern Power: P³ The Nine Keys to Business Success, Next Step Press, Vienna, Virginia, USA, 1988;

Woodsmall, Wyatt (1988). Metaprograms, Next Step Press, Vienna, Virginia, USA, 1988, pp. 48-55;

Woodsmall, Wyatt (1988). Wyatt Woodsmall’s Meta Programming Cookbook or Everything you ever wanted to know about sorting principles and were afraid to ask in Metaprograms, Next Step Press, Vienna, Virginia, USA, 1988, pp. 57-74.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2011-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Metatipuri “, initially published in Romanian on August 17th, 2012. Discerne. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.

The materials published on this blog are covered and subjected to this disclaimer.

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