22.  Does Research Support NLP?


Due to the ways that search engine algorithms interpret search requests, you may or may not have ended up at the right page.  To help you to get to the information you are really after, here are some related pages in this site which you might want to visit as well as, or instead of, this one:

  • FAQ #2 - Describes what "NLP" is.
  • FAQ #3 - Describes where "NLP" and the NLP-related techniques came from.
  • FAQ #20 - Describes some of the limitations of the NLP techniques.
  • FAQ #21 - An example of criticism of "NLP".  Two school textbook authors use NLP-type linguistic techniques to criticise "NLP".
  • FAQ #22 - A discussion of research of NLP and NLP-related subjects.  Includes references to over 100 such studies which have produced positive findings.
  • FAQ #27 - A detailed rebuttal of the wildly inaccurate article on "NLP" in the so-called Skeptics Dictionary.
  • FAQ #28 - Following up on FAQ #27, this "multipart" FAQ shows how poor research has meant that a dependence on flawed and even unequivocally false information about the FoNLP (field of NLP) has been commonplace amongst academic critics for over 20 years.  The subsections include details of the infamous 'reviews' by Sharpley (1984, 1987) and Heap (1988, etc.).
  • FAQ #32 - Describes exactly why research into preferred representational systems and predicate matching, which makes up an overwhelming majority of the negative "evidence", is based on an absolutely fundamental flaw.

Note:   A list of references to over 100 studies which report favourably on NLP claims can be found at the end of this FAQ.

The Man from the Royal Horticultural Society, He Say ...*

Two of the most frequently offered complaints about "NLP" and research address an apparent lack of supportive evidence for whatever each critic thinks of as "NLP".  And the fact that NLPers seem to be unwilling to carry out any such research themselves.

  • This is partly due to financial constraints.  It is a fact that most psychological testing uses university students as subjects.  And usually, American undergraduates - because that is a cheaper way to get research done.
  • A second consideration, which will be discussed at more length in this article, is the question: Is it actually essential that a process be "scientifically validated/explained" before it can be put to good use?

On the first count, by offering course credits, etc. rather than cash payments, university-based researchers can greatly reduce their overheads, compared to the costs encountered by private researchers trying to mount a study of any significant size.  Moreover, much of the research that occurs in an academic context may be at least partially funded by private donations and/or grants from one organization or another.  Thus the argument that NLPers are some how "dodging the column" by not carrying out research actually presents a highly misleading picture of the situation.

On the second count, the accusation is frequently made by critics of NLP that it can't be any good/shouldn't be used, because of the lack of supporting evidence.  Which would be a telling point were it not for the fact that a large portion of the field of non-materialistically-based psychology has no basis in empirical research either.  Thus the late Professor Margaret Singer felt obliged to admit, in her book Crazy Therapies (1996), that:

... rational and long-used counseling techniques may not all have been scientifically validated, but for decades they have met the requirements for the standard of practice in the general psychotherapy field.
(page xvi)

Which isn't nearly as reassuring as it may sound.  Because psychotherapy and science have seldom gone hand in hand.  Indeed, Dr. Donald Eisner, in his book The Death of Psychotherapy (2000), claims that of the 500 plus forms of psychotherapy that he has investigated very, very few have any basis in empirical research.

And that isn't the end of the story.

In a recent (at the time of writing) gardening programming on BBC TV (Gardeners' World, BBC2, April 2011), Colin Crosbie, Curator of the Royal Horticultural Society's centre at Wisley, was being interviewed about the approach to the introduction of new products and methods used at the centre when he made this very pertinent comment:

... as gardeners we know [when something] works, that's why we do those jobs in the garden, and we see the end product. ... then the science catches up and looks for how things are working.
(Italics used for emphasis)

If the idea of adopting a technique or product is acceptable because "it works" is acceptable in a genuinely scientific context, like botany/biology/chemistry, even if it has yet to be validated, on what basis can we reasonably reject a similar approach in regard to the concepts and techniques of the field of NLP (FoNLP)?
It seems that the biggest difference between the two situations is that so many of academic researchers into "NLP" have been remarkably inept in their attempts to investigate the subject.

(* Note: If the heading sounds familiar it may be because it is based on a slogan used by a producer of fruit juices and canned fruit: "The Man from Del Monte, he say YES!")

Academics and the Question "What is NLP?"

Just before we get to the main subject of this FAQ, I would like to pass on a piece of information that I have discovered in the course of reading a couple of dozen academic criticisms of what the authors think is "NLP".  And it is simply this:

If the criticisms I have read so far make up anything like a reliable indicator, then when it comes to the subject of "NLP", academics suffer from tunnel vision.  (Note: All of the articles mentioned below can be accessed via FAQ #28)

For example, Drs Stephen Hunt and David Major are involved with religious studies, and they both single "NLP" out as being "not a religion but something like a religion" (yes, seriously).  They say nothing about "NLP" being a form of psychotherapy, and completely ignore the question of scientific evaluation that we will consider in this FAQ.

Drs Spicer and Boussebaa, on the other hand, are both concerned with management and globalisation - and whilst they very briefly mention Sharpley as a critic of "NLP", most of their article is concerned with the philosophy of conflict and a rather strange claim that NLPers are failing to fulfil a promise to make the world conflict-free.  To all intents and purposes they ignore any allegations about religion or scientific validation.

Dr John Norcross, Dr Gerald Koocher et al, have produced two very dubious articles allegedly in support of EBP (evidence-based practice) in psychological treatments, but make little or no mention of any previous research on "NLP", using instead the results of two polls of non-expert "experts"* and their opinions.  Even the authors of the two articles admit that the number of people taking part are too few to make the poll results worthwhile.  And in any case, the "appeal to authority", which is all these studies amount to, is not a logically valid form of argument and is therefore certainly not scientific.

(*   That is to say, being an expert in one area of psychology does not automatically qualify a person as an expert in all areas of psychology.
Thus, for example, the fact that many of the people polled were academics, and/or had a behavioral/cognitive/eclectic/integrative theoretical orientation tells us nothing about whether or not they knew/understood anything about NLP and/or the FoNLP.  For that information we have to rely on the seriously unreliable technique of "self reporting".)

The declared aim of Norcross, Koocher et al's deeply flawed research was to identify "discredited" tests and treatments - though without a hint of how they had been discredited, or who by.  Indeed, most of the work by psychologists that I've reviewed so far seems to have no other raison d'etre than to try to boost the academic status of their own subject by bad mouthing someone else.  Thus the allegedly NLP-related articles usually hammer on about "NLP" not being "scientifically validated".  Ironically this turns out to be something of an "own goal", since psychology itself (unless it is physiologically-based) is not, as we shall now see, a genuinely scientific field of study.

Is Psychology a Science?

Of course psychologists want to be seen as scientists, because this would raise their status in academic circles and make it easier to pull in the grants needed to fund further research.  But wanting psychology to be a science doesn't make it one.
See, for example:

  • The Preface to Michael Gazzaniga's The Mind's Past (University of California Press, 1998)
  • The Prologue to Chris Frith's book Making Up the Mind (Blackwell, 2007), and
  • The Preamble to Liam Hudson's The Cult of the Fact (Jonathan Cape, 1972)

Michael Gazzaniga, a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, went so far as to claim that "psychology is dead", though I think what he actually meant was that non-physiologically-based psychology is seen as little more than counselling in an academia that is dominated by materialist reductionist thinking* (pages xi-xii).

(* Materialist reductionism, a view of "reality" which asserts that nothing exists except that which can be reduced to basic atomic level building blocks.  It is an extension of Logical Positivism, a school of philosophy based on the belief that no statement can be "meaningful" if it isn't open to empirical verification.)

Chris Frith, a Professor of Neuropsychology, put it even more bluntly in the title of the first section of his book, Prologue: Real Scientists Don't Study the Mind (page 1).

And Liam Hudson, who graduated from Oxford, worked as a researcher at Cambridge, and served as Professor of Psychology at Edinburgh and Brunel, etc., came at the subject from a rather different angle when he started his book thus:

"This is a book about professional psychologists and the visions they pursue.  It expresses a growing dissatisfaction with the self-consciously scientific psychology in which I myself was trained - an activity that, increasingly over the last ten years, has taken on the air of a masquerade.  It has been written in the hope that, somewhere behind the paraphernalia of false science and apparent objectivity, there lies the possibility of a more genuinely dispassionate study of human nature and human action." (page 11)

The essential detail here is that "science" deals with objective reality (as far as that is possible), whilst psychology in general and Neuro-Linguistic Programming in particular, deal with subjectivity.
A very simple example will be enough to demonstrate the difference.

A scientist could use various methods (CAT scan, fMRI, etc.) to see what is going on in my brain when I am looking at a large surface coloured red.  And he or she could use that method to see what is going on in your head when you look at the same surface.  But then we come to something entirely incontrovertible, yet untestable.  There is no way our scientist, whatever their speciality, whatever equipment they may have available to them, can discover whether my experience matches your experience whilst we were looking at that same surface.

Or again, Arthur, Bert and Clark hear a joke.  Arthur falls down laughing, Bert also laughs, but not nearly as hard, and not for as long.  Clark doesn't laugh at all, but says he thought the joke was very amusing.  How can a scientist discover which of the three thought the joke was "funniest"?
Answer:  Although we can observe the physiological activity in each person's brain, we have no way of making a meaningful comparison between the three readings as a measurement of the relative amount of amusement each person derived from hearing that joke.

In short, science cannot investigate subjective experience and produce definitive results.  And Neuro-Linguistic Programming, as many readers will already know, was defined in the "tag title" of Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Volume 1 (a book co-authored by Robert Dilts, John Grinder, Richard Bandler, Leslie Cameron-Bandler (now Leslie Lebeau) and Judith DeLozier), as "The Study of the Structure of Subjective Experience".

Another Perspective

So how do things stand at the moment as far as "scientific" research into the FoNLP (Field of NLP* is concerned?  Keeping things simple, the situation is actually split three ways:

(*   The "field of NLP (FoNLP) consists of NLP itself (the specific modelling technique), the NLP-related techniques and applications, and NLP-related training.)

  1. There is a body of second rate research which suffers from a lack of knowledge on the part of the experimenters and/or poor design of the experimental processes and/or misinterpretation of the results.
  2. A second kind of "experimental evidence" consists of studies which appear to have been carried out competently, but which nevertheless "fail to support" the claims made for various NLP techniques.
  3. Lastly, there is research on certain NLP techniques which has produced positive results; plus various "mainstream" studies which have no direct link to NLP but which seem to support the validity of certain NLP-related concepts and techniques.

To put a little more flesh on those bones:

  1. Much of the "scientific" research carried out on NLP techniques - such as the 60 plus experimental reports reviewed by Heap (1988, 1989, 2008), and the significantly smaller number reviewed by Sharpley (1984, 1987) - has been produced by (a) graduates going for their M.A. or M.Sc. and by post-graduates going for a Ph.D. - not by fully qualified, experienced researchers.  Moreover almost every single one of these experiments related to just one concept (the PRS) and one technique (predicate matching) from the many that make up the FoNLP.  Not only that, but in most cases the researchers had used, and misunderstood, the 1976 description (in The Structure of Magic 1), rather than the far clearer 1979 description (in Frogs into Princes).  Indeed, the evidence shows that in many cases the experimenter(s) simply hadn't carried out the kind of basic groundwork needed to pave the way for an effective study and were testing "straw men" - fabricated claims that have never been made by any genuinely authoritative member of the NLP community.  Such as the claim that a person's PRS (preferred representational system) could be identified by tracking eye accessing cues and/or by relying on peoples' self-reports.
    For what appears to be a competently executed undergraduate study - where the results are invalidated because of the experimenter's lack of understanding of the technique he is investigating, see the Dillingham experiment which was carried out at the University of Central Florida.
    For a detailed examination of a study by a frequently quoted, and just as frequently misunderstood, researcher, see the Hogan experiment.
  2. Whilst I appreciate the positive intentions of those people who cite various studies which have "failed to support" some NLP technique or other, the fact is that their conclusions are invariably downright inaccurate.
    • Firstly because so many critics seem unable to recognise that:
        (a) NLP itself is nothing more than a single modeling technique, and
        (b) even if it were possible to totally invalidate any particular NLP-related model (the "eye accessing cues" model, for example), this would in no way invalidate the field of NLP as a whole BECAUSE the various models and techniques are inter-related, but not inter-dependent).
    • Secondly, because genuine scientific investigation is not about proving that something is "true" or "false", but about establishing the statistical probability that the hypothesis under investigation is true or false.  That is to say, on the one hand it is certainly possible to accumulate so much evidence against a certain proposition that it would take a quite outlandish leap of faith to still suppose it was true.  On the other hand, no matter how negative the results of a given study, they can never completely invalidate the model or technique being tested - they can only show that it is highly unlikely that it is valid.
      The statement that a particular experiment, or set of experiments, "failed to support" a particular hypothesis is a far more accurate and honest description than claiming that the hypothesis has been "disproved".
    • The claim that "there is no scientific evidence for NLP" is frequently (usually?) meant to imply that some NLP technique or application has not been validated using the scientific method (see box below).  Whilst this may well appear to be the case, as we said previously, this is dependent on the accuracy, or otherwise, of the creed of materialist reductionism (which is behind the belief that "nothing is valid unless it has been/can be scientifically testable").
      Which is fine in theory, but not in any practical sense, since we cannot establish the probability of the accuracy of the materialist reductionist philosophy using the scientific method.  What's strange is that there are still some academics who haven't quite got the hang of this situation.  Why else would someone like Dr. Steve Novella, M.D., an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine as well as president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society claim that:
      'The last thirty years of research have simply shown that NLP is bunk. ...
      In the case of NLP it has failed every test of both its underlying theories and empirical tests of its efficacy.  So, in short, NLP does not make sense and it doesn't work.'
      (Steve Novella, , March 28th, 2007.  Retrieved from http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=228)

    • Having said that, it is equally difficult to positively "prove" a particular hypothesis in psychology, and that is why it is more accurate to say "this experiment supports the hypothesis" rather than "this experiment has proved the hypothesis to be true."
  3. In the third group we have work such as the many studies by Professor Elizabeth Loftus on the plasticity of memory.  Professor Loftus makes no mention of NLP in those studies which I have read, though she did, on one occasion, comment of Bandler and Grinder's "change personal history" technique, so she obviously knows that NLP exists.  Nevertheless, her studies of "false memory syndrome" and how it occurs demonstrate that memories - one's internally stored personal history - can indeed be "rewritten" (or "reprogrammed") simply by bringing memories into conscious awareness, and that we already do this, to a greater or lesser extent, as part of everyday life.
    Even more direct support for NLP models and techniques can be found in psychological studies involving the so-called "Chameleon Effect", which relates to both non-verbal "pacing" (to use the NLP term): see AI Seduces Stanford Students; and in relation to both verbal and non-verbal pacing, matching predicates. and David Groves' "Clean Language": see Copycat waitresses get bigger tips.
    This kind of evidence does not prove that specific NLP-related techniques are valid, but they do establish an empirical basis for further investigation.

NLP-specific Research

So how does this relate to NLP?

  • The scientific method is applicable to situations where the elements involved are expected to behave consistently.  Hold a magnet over a pile of iron filings and if the magnet is close enough, some filings from the top of the pile move upwards and become "attached" to the surface of the magnet.  If this doesn't happen then something is definitely wrong.  Either the "iron" filings aren't really of a metal that responds to magnetism, or the magnet isn't really a magnet, or the magnet is still too far away from the filings to have an effect.
    What certainly won't be true is that the magnet isn't working because it had a row at home last night, or because it just can't be bothered, etc.
  • In any kind of psychological testing, on the other hand, all sorts of variables come into play.
    Nowadays psychologists try to work with just two variables, known as the independent variable (IV) and the dependent variable (DV), the point being to see what happens to the DV when the experimenter tweaks the IV.
    For example, in another of Loftus' experiments the IV was a set of verbs describing the meeting of two cars - "hit", "crash", "collide", etc.   The DV was the estimates of the speed the cars were travelling at when they came together, as given by five groups of subjects.  The nature of the experiment was to test whether the verb used to describe the event made any difference to how fast the subjects thought the cars were moving.

The Scientific Method
Considering it's importance, the scientific method is actually very simple:

1.  Make observations

2.  Formulate a hypothesis to explain the observations

3.  Test the hypothesis

4.  If the tests do not support the hypotheses, go back to step 2

5.  If the tests do support the hypotheses, continue

6.  Circulate all relevant details to other researchers so that they can replicate the tests as closely as possible

7.  If independent researchers cannot confirm the original findings, check for flaws in the experimental equipment and procedure and the information sent out. If necessary, go back to step 2.

8.  If the independent researchers are able to replicate the original findings then the hypothesis is promoted to the status of theory

Note three important points:

1.  This approach presupposes that the validity of an hypothesis is directly related by its replicateability by others

2.  This approach looks for "cause and effect" relationships - the hypothesis proposes a "cause" for the observed "effects".

3.  The scientific method is about establishing a degree of "probability", and not about deciding whether a given hypothesis is absolutely right or absolutely wrong.

  • However, in addition to the IV and DV there are also other variables which aren't under the experimenter's control, though they may affect the outcome of the experiment.  These are known as "confounding" variables (CVs).  It is this last group of variables which make life so difficult when trying to carry out genuinely "scientific" tests on human beings.
  • Even if we could get stable results, testing psychological models isn't as straightforward as authentic scientific modelling.  When iron filings are "attracted" to a magnet the reason is basically because the magnet creates an "field" which influences alignment of the ferrous filings.  (That's a pretty crude explanation, but it encompasses the basics.)
    When we hypnotize someone, on the other hand, even if we only induce a light trance, we really have no idea what actually happens.  We might say the person's focus of attention becomes constricted, but how are we actually doing that?  And why does that make them more suggestible?
    And applying that directly to NLP, does the "fast phobia technique" cause a phobia to disappear, or does it simply help a person to tap into their own resources?  Whatever that means.

Having said all that, some research has already been carried out on the use of NLP by people who genuinely understand NLP.  Some years back Richard Bolstad, a well-known NLP trainer and author from New Zealand, compiled a list of "successful" research into the use of various NLP-related techniques, and his results can be seen here:
A similar list (which incorporates Bolstad's review) can be found here:
In both cases it would probably be most accurate to say that the findings demonstrate some support for the "usefulness" of certain NLP-associated techniques.

More recently the team at the Australian NLP training company Inspiritive have initiated an ongoing programme of research into the various NLP models and techniques following the principles of "best practice" for this kind of activity.
this page on their website for details.

As of June, 2006. the University of Surrey, in the UK, has been supporting a project similar to the one in Australia, led by Paul Tosey, senior lecturer at the university, and Jane Mathison, who became only the second person in the world to be awarded a Ph.D based on a thesis which focused (positively) on NLP.
See: http://www.nlpconference.co.uk/Folder.2004-03-13.8939184105/nlpresearchproject

And despite my reservations, Richard Churches has compiled the following list of research papers specifically related to NLP and various aspects of education:

Creativity and self-expression

Beeden, S. (2009) Applying Dilts’ `Disney creativity strategy’ within the Higher Education arts, design and media environment, in P.Tosey,(ed.), Current research in NLP; Volume 1, proceedings of the first international NLP research conference, University of Surrey, 5th July 2008. ANLP International CIC. South Mimms, Hertfordshire, UK.

Ronne, M. (1998) A theoretical approach to creative expression for school counselling, PhD Thesis, The Union Institute.

Winch, S. (2005) From frustration to satisfaction: using NLP to improve self- expression, in Proceedings of the 18th EA Educational Conference 2005, Surry Hills NSW.


Ghaoui, C. and Janvier, W.A. (2009) Interactive e-learning, International Journal of Distance Education Technologies, 2: 3: 2: 26-35.

Sheridan, R.D. (2008) Teaching the elderly effective learning strategies in relation to internet use, PhD Thesis, University of Brighton.

Zhang, N. and Ward, A.E. (2004) On the adaption of e-learning content to learner NLP input sensory preference, International Conference on Innovation, Good Practice and Research in Engineering Education, 131-137, Wolverhampton, 3-4, June.

Emotional, social, behavioural and learning difficulties

Beaver, R. (1989) Neuro-Linguistic programme as practised by an educational psychologist, Association of Educational Psychologists Journal, 5: 2: 87-90.

Bull, L. (2007) Sunflower therapy for children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia): a randomised, controlled trial, Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 13: 1: 15-24.

Childers, J.H. (1989) Looking at yourself through loving eyes, Elementary School Guidance and Counseling, 23: 3: 204-209.

Esterbrook, R.L. (2006) Introducing Russian Neuro-Linguistic Programming behavior modification techniques to enhance learning and coping skills for high-risk students in community colleges: an initial investigation, Doctoral Dissertation, George Mason University, Fairfax VA.

Fruchter, H.J. (1983) Sensory reinforcement in the service of aggression maintenance in children: a treatment study, Dissertation Abstracts International 45(3) 1013-B Syracuse University.

Renwich, F. (2005) The ‘A Quiet Place’ programme: Short-term support for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in mainstream schools, Educational and Child Psychology, The British Psychological Society, 22: 3: 78-88.

Squirrel, L. (2009) Can Neuro-Linguistic Programming work with young children who display varying Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties?, in P.Tosey (ed.), Current research in NLP; vol 1: proceedings of the first international NLP research conference, University of Surrey, 5th July 2008, South Mimms, Hertfordshire: ANLP International CIC.

English as a foreign language

Harris, T. (2001) NLP if it works use it . . ., CAUCE, Revista de Filología y su Didáctica, 24: 29-38.

Knowles, J. (1983) The old brain, the new mirror: matching teaching and learning styles in foreign language class (based on Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Paper presented at the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Baltimore, MD, April 28th -May 1st 1983.

Further and Higher education

Johnson, S. (2004) ‘Strategies for success’: integrating Neuro Linguistic Programming into the undergraduate curriculum, paper presented at The 12th Improving Student Learning Symposium, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, Oxford Brookes University, Birmingham, 6-8 September.

Murray, P. and Murray, S. (2007) Promoting sustainability values within career-oriented degree programmes: a case study analysis, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 8: 16-300.

Skinner, H. and Croft, R. (2009) Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to improve the self-efficacy of undergraduate dissertation students, Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 1: 1: 9-38.

Language and learning

Eckstein, D. (2004) Reframing as an innovative educational technique: turning a perceived inability into an asset, Korean Journal of Thinking and Problem Solving, 14: 1: 37-47.

Marcello, M. (2003) Language and identity: learning and the learner, paper presented at the Tenth International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning. Institute of Education, University of London 15th – 18th July 2003.

Mathison, J. (2004) The inner life of words: an investigation into language in learning and teaching, PhD thesis, University of Surrey.

Mathison, J. and Tosey, P. (2008c) Riding into Transformative Learning, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 15: 2: 67-88.

McCabe, D. (1985) Meeting language needs of all types of learners, Academic Therapy, 20: 5: 563-567.

Millrood, R. (2004) The role of NLP in teachers' classroom discourse, ELT Journal, 58: 10-37.

Leadership and management in education and in general

Dowlen, A. (1996) NLP - help or hype? Investigating the uses of neuro-Linguistic Programming in management learning, Career Development International, 1: 27-34.

Helm, D.J. (1994) Neuro-Linguistic Programming: establishing rapport between school administrators and the students, staff and community, Education, 114: 4: 625-627.

Hutchinson, G, Churches, R. and Vitae, D. (2006) The consultant leader programme in London’s PRUs and EBD schools; impact report 3: towards system leadership, Reading: CfBT Education Trust and the National College for School Leadership.

Hutchinson, G., Churches, R. and Vitae, D. (2007) NCSL London Leadership Strategy, consultant leaders to support leadership capacity in London’s PRUs and EBD Schools: impact report: roll-out, July 2007, Reading: CfBT Education Trust and the National College for School Leadership.

Hutchinson, G., Churches, R. and Vitae, D. (2008)Together we have made a difference: consultant leaders to support leadership capacity in London’s PRUs and EBD schools, final programme report, Reading: CfBT Education Trust and the National College for School Leadership, San Diego, California: Jensen Learning.

Jones, J. and Attfield, R. (2007) Flying high: some leadership lessons from the Fast Track teaching programme, Reading: CfBT Education Trust. Unpublished.

Young, J. A. (1995) Developing leadership from within: a descriptive study of the use of Neurolinguistic Programming practices in a course on leadership, Dissertation, Ohio State University, Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol 56 (1-A).

Meta programs in the classroom

Brown, N. (2002) Meta program patterns in accounting educators at a UK business school, Accounting Education, 11: 79-91.

Brown, N. (2003) A comparison of the dominant meta program patterns in accounting undergraduate students and accounting lecturers at a UK business school, Accounting Education, 12: 159-175.

Brown, N. (2004) What makes a good educator? The relevance of meta programs, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 29: 5: 515-533.

Brown, N. and Graff, M. (2004) Student performance in business and accounting subjects as measured by assessment results: an exploration of the relevance of personality traits, identified using meta programs, International Journal of Management Education, 4: 3-18.


Day, T. (2005) NLP modelling in the classroom: students modelling the good practice of other students, paper presented at the British Educational Research Association New Researchers/Student Conference, University of Glamorgan, 14th September 2005.

Day, T. (2008a) A study of a small-scale classroom intervention that uses an adapted Neuro-Linguistic Programming modelling approach, PhD Thesis, University of Bath.


Munaker, S. (1997) The great aha! a path to transformation, PhD Dissertation, Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol 57(11-A), May 1997.

Outdoor education

Lee, A. (1993) Outdoor education and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership, 10: 16-17.


Brandis, (1987) A neurolinguistic treatment for reducing parental anger responses and creating more resourceful behavioral options, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, Dissertation Abstract Dissertation Abstracts International. Vol 47(11-B), May 1987.

De Mirandi, C.T., de Paula, C.S., Palma, D., da Silva, E.M., Martin, D. and de Nobriga, F.J. (1999) Impact of the application of neurolinguistic programming to mothers of children enrolled in a day care center of a shantytown, Sao Paulo Medical Journal, 4: 117(2): 63-71.

Hall, E., Wall, K., Higgins, S., Stephen, L., Pooley and Welham, J. (2005) Learning to learn with parents: lessons from two research projects, Improving Schools, 8: 179-191.

Peer counseling

Dailey, A.L. (1989) Neuro Linguistic Programming in peer counselor education, Journal of College Student Development, 30: 2: 173-175.

Research methodology and NLP

Mathison, J. and Tosey, P. (2008a) Innovations in constructivist research: NLP, psycho-phenomenology and the exploration of inner landscapes, The Psychotherapist, 37: 5-8.

Mathison, J. and Tosey, P. (2008b) Exploring inner landscapes: NLP and psycho-phenomenology as innovations in researching first-person experience, Qualitative Research in Management and Organization Conference, New Mexico, March 11th -13th 2008.

Steinfield, T.R. and Ben-Avie, M. (2006) A Brief Discussion of the Usefulness of NLP in Action-Based Education Research. Paper presented at the NLP and research: a symposium, Surrey University School of Management, University of Surrey, 16th June 2006.

Spelling strategy

Loiselle F. (1985) The effect of eye placement on orthographic memorization, PH.D. Thesis, Faculté des Sciences Sociales, Université de Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Malloy, T.E. (1987) Teaching integrated thought. Techniques and data, Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication 19th-12th March. Available at ERIC.

Malloy, T.E. (1989) Principles for teaching cognitive strategies, University of Utah, available at www.kattmodel.se.

Malloy, T.E. (1995) Empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of a visual spelling strategy, in K.H. Schick (ed), Rechtschreibtherapie, Paderborn, Junfermann Verlag.

Teacher perspectives and development

Carey, J., Churches, R., Hutchinson, G., Jones, J. and Tosey, P. (2009) Neuro-Linguistic Programming and learning: teacher case studies on the impact of NLP in education, Reading: CfBT Education Trust.

Churches, R. and West-Burnham (2008) Leading learning through relationships: the implications of Neuro-Linguistic Programming for personalisation and the Children’s Agenda in England, Reading: CfBT Education Trust.

Churches, R. and West-Burnham, J. (2009) Leading learning through relationships: the implications of Neuro-Linguistic Programming for personalisation and the Children’s Agenda in England, in P. Tosey, P. (ed.), Current research in NLP, vol 1: proceedings of the first international NLP research conference, University of Surrey, 5th July 2008, South Mimms, Hertfordshire: ANLP International CIC, pp.126-136.

Dragovic, T. (2007) Teachers' professional identity and the role of CPD in its creation - a report on a study into how NLP and non-NLP trained teachers in Slovenia talk about their professional identity and their work, International Society for Teacher Education, 27th Annual International Seminar at University of Stirling, Scotland, 24th –30th June 2007.

Teaching and learning in general

Childers, J.H. (1985) Neuro-Linguistic Programming: enhancing teacher-student communications, Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 24: 1: 32-39.

Dolnick, K. (2006) Neuro-Linguistic applications to classroom management: reach them to teach them, PhD Thesis, Capella University.

Girija Navaneedhan, C. and Saraladevi Devi, K. (2009) Influence of learning techniques on information processing, US-China Education Review, 6: 1 (Serial No.50): 1-32.

Helm, D.J. (1989) Education: the wagon train to the stars/it’s time to `jump start’ learning through NLP’, Education, 110: 2: 54-256.

Helm, D.J. (1990) Neurolinguistic Programming: equality as to distribution of learning modalities, Journal of Instructional Psychology, 17: 3: 159-160.

Helm, D.J. (1991) Neurolinguistic Programming: gender and the learning modalities create inequalities in learning: a proposal to reestablish equality and promote new levels of achievement in education, Journal of Instructional Psychology, 18: 3: 167-169.

Helm, D.J. (2000) Neuro-Linguistic Programming: enhancing learning for the visually impaired, Education, 120: 5: 790-794.

Hillin, H.H. (1982) Effects of a rapport method and chemical dependency workshop for adults employed in Kansas service agencies, Dissertation Abstracts International 44(12), 3574-A, Kansas State University.

Kennedy, C. and And, O. (1994) Study strategies: a formula for exceptional outcomes in the mainstream, paper presented at the Annual Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children, 72nd, Denver, CO, April 6th –10th, 1994.

Parr, G. and And, O. (1986) The effectiveness of Neurolinguisitc Programming in a small-group setting, Journal of College Student Personnel, 27: 358-361.

Ragan, J. and Ragan, T. (1982) Working effectively with people: contributions of neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) to visual literacy, paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Visual Literacy Association (13th, Lexington, KY, October 31st - November 3rd, in Journal of Visual Verbal Languaging, 2: 2: 67-79.

Raja, R. and Tien, N. (2009) Exploring multi-modality tools of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to facilitate better learning among primary school students National Institute of Education, Singapore, Redesigning Pedagogy, International Conference 1-3 June.

Sandhu, D.S. (1994) Suggestopedia and Neurolinguistic Programming: introduction to whole brain teaching and psychotherapy, Journal of Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 19: 3: 229-240.

Schaefer, J. and Schajor, S. (1999) Learning with all one's senses: Neurolinguistic Programming in the teaching of pediatric nursing, Kinderkrankenschwester, 18: 7: 289-91.

Stanton, H. E. (1989) Using Neuro-Linguistic Programming in the schools, Journal of the Society for Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 14: 4: 311-326.

Stanton, H. E. (1998) Reducing test anxiety by a combination of hypnosis and NLP, Journal of Accelerated Learning and Teaching, 23: 59-65.

Tosey, P. and Mathison, J. (2003a) Neuro-Linguistic Programming: its potential for teaching and learning in higher education, paper presented at the European Educational Research Association conference, University of Hamburg, 17th – 20th September 2003.

Tosey, P. and Mathison, J. (2003b) Neuro-Linguistic Programming and learning theory: a response, Curriculum Journal, 14: 3: 371-388.

Tosey, P., Mathison, J. and Michelli, D. (2005) Mapping transformative learning: the potential of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Journal of Transformative Education, 3: 2: 140-167.

Thalgott, M.R. (1986) Anchoring: a ‘cure’ for Epy, Academic Therapy, 21: 3: 347-352.

Woerner, J. and Stonehouse, H. (1988) The use of Neuro-Linguistic Programming model for learning success, School Science and Mathematics, 88:516-524.

Zechmeister, E. (2003) The impact of NLP on the performance and motivation of primary school children, PhD Thesis, Leopold-Franzens-Universität, Innsbruck.

Vocal training

Pruett, J.A.S. (2002) The application of the Neuro-Linguistic Programming model to vocal performance training, DMA Thesis, University of Texas, Austin.

Zechmeister, E. (2003) The impact of NLP on the performance and motivation of primary school children, PhD Thesis, Leopold-Franzens-Universität, Innsbruck.

Papers and research that question the use of NLP in education

Only papers from the 1980’s contain formal research evidence that is critical.  Furthermore, the methodologies used in these have been criticised - in most cases because of inaccurate application/interpretation of NLP techniques (See Carey et al., 2009). So far, no critical papers (since the 1980’s) contain research evidence-based criticism that is the result of actual NLP research studies.

Zechmeister, E. (2003) The impact of NLP on the performance and motivation of primary school children, PhD Thesis, Leopold-Franzens-Universität, Innsbruck.


Bradley, G. M. (1986) The effectiveness of a Neurolinguistic Programming treatment for students test anxiety, Melbourne: La Trobe University.

Cassiere, M. F. and And, O. (1987) Gender differences in the primary representational system according to Neurolinguistic Programming, paper presented at the Annual Convention of the Southwestern Psychological Association, 33rd, New Orleans, LA, April 16th –18th.

Fremder, L.A. (1986) Generalization of visual dot pattern strategies to number pattern strategies by learning disabled students, Dissertation Abstracts International 47(11), 4055-A Columbia University Teachers College.

Schleh, M.N. (1987) An examination of the Neurolinguistic Programming hypothesis on eye movements in children, Dissertation Abstracts International 48(2), 584-B Biola University, Rosemead School of Psychology.

Semtner, E.A. (1986) An investigation into the relevance of using Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) as an aid in individualizing college reading programs, Dissertation Abstracts International 47(4).


Burton, D. (2007) Psycho-pedagogy and personalised learning, Journal of Education for Teaching International Research and Pedagogy, 33: 13-17.

Craft, A. (2001) Neuro-Linguistic Programming and learning theory, Curriculum Journal, 12: 125-136.

Lisle, A. (2005) The double loop: reflections on personal development planning and reflective skills of undergraduates, paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Glamorgan, 14th –17th September 2005.

Marcus, J. and Choi, T. (1994) Neurolinguistic Programming: magic or myth? Journal of Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 19: 3-4: 309-342.