6.  What are submodalities?

For each of the Primary Thinking Styles (see Question 6) or "modalities" there are a number of defining characteristics, called submodalities.

In the case of the Visual PTS, for example, the submodalities include:

  • Colour - is the picture in colour or black and white?
  • Brightness - is the picture bright, dark or washed out?
  • Depth - is the picture in 2D or 3D?
  • Movement - is the picture static, like a photo, or fluid, like a film?
  • Focus - is the picture clear or blurred?

For the Auditory PTS the characteristics include:

  • Volume - how loud is the sound?
  • Mono or Stereo - Does the sound come from one place only, from both sides, or from all around?
  • Continuity - Does the sound come and go, or is it continuous?
  • Tempo - is the sound fast, medium or slow?

And so on.

Change just one characteristic of an important submodality can have a profound effect.  For example, turning the tonality of a self-talk voice from deep and serious to high pitched and frivilous can make it far less powerful and limiting for the person hearing it, and may even result in the voice disappearing altogether.

Recommended reading: An Insider's Guide to Sub-Modalities by Richard Bandler and Will MacDonald.