Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a somewhat controversial area of research, often relegated to journals like The Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management.1
The NLP paradigm as a whole is generally discredited in the more mainstream scientific literature. A widely cited text on the topic concludes to say that:
We found little if any evidence to support NLP’s assumptions or to indicate that it
is effective as a strategy for social influence. It assumes that by tracking another’s
eye movements and language, an NLP trainer can shape the person’s thoughts,
feelings, and opinions (Dilts, 1983). There is no scientific support for these
This directly contradicts the main premises of NLP and #2 specifically.
Tomasz Witkowski of the Polish Skeptics Club published an article in Polish Psychological Bulletin, reviewing the literature on this subject.3 His conclusions although mixed, are also unambiguous:
The qualitative analysis indicates the greater weight of the non-supportive studies and their greater methodological worth against the ones supporting the tenets. Results contradict the claim of an empirical basis of NLP.
Among many reputable sources, Witkowski cites an article in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, which concludes:
They were unable to find any support for the NLP-derived hypothesis that subjects showing differential ability across sensory modes would choose word phrases reflecting their preferred sensory mode.4
The Polish study further undermines the scientific basis for NLP and for #1 specifically.
- See for example, "Rapport Building for Salespeople: A Neuro-Linguistic Approach" by William G. Nickels, Robert F. Everett and Ronald Klein, The Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management , Vol. 3, No. 2 (Nov., 1983), pp. 1-7.
- "Be All That You Can Be: Enhancing Human Performance" by D. Druckman in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology Vol 34, No 11 (2004), pp. 2234-2266
- Fromme, D. K., & Daniell, J. (1984). "Neurolinguistic Programming examined: imagery, sensory mode, and communication." Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31.