Wilimek J F: The use of language representational systems by high and low marital adjustment couples.
Dissertation Abstracts International 40(7), 3914-A University of Utah (Order = 8000971): 83, 1979.
Abstract: Predicates used in speech (verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and nominalizations) have been hypothesized by Bandler and Grinder (1976) to provide natural language representations of the sensory perceptions that an individual has relied on to gather information about the world. Bandler and Grinder suggest that language representational systems play an important role in interpersonal communication. Representational systems have also been hypothesized to affect the quality of interaction between marital partners (Bandler, Grinder & Satir, 1976). The present study investigated language representational systems in the natural language of high-adjustment and low-adjustment married couples. Two groups of subjects, with 12 couples in each group, were selected on the basis of their Dyadic Adjustment Scale scores, and then compared for differences in their use of speech predicates in samples of natural language. Ratings of the predicates used by each subject to describe satisfying experiences in a five- minute monologue and to describe upsetting experiences in a second five-minute monologue were a dependent variable. These ratings were also compared to another dependent variable, the subject's ability to use mental imagery, measured by the Betts QMI. Analyses of the data indicated that married people used significantly more auditory predicates and fewer visual predicates when they described upsetting experiences than when they described satisfying experiences. High-adjustment couples use significantly more kinesthetic predicates in descriptions of upsetting experiences than in descriptions of satisfying experiences, while low- adjustment couples showed no differences. Individuals in high-adjustment marriages evidenced significantly better auditory and kinesthetic imagery on the Betts QMI than individuals in low-adjustment marriages. Correlations between the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic scales of the Betts QMI and the use of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic predicates in a natural language sample were low. Extending Bandler, Grinder, and Satir's (1976) theory about representational systems to these data, it appears that married people become more aware of auditory experiences when they are upset (particularly low-adjustment wives), and less aware of their visual experience. Also, spouses in high-adjustment marriages become more aware of their feelings when upset, while individuals in low-adjustment marriages do not become more aware of their feelings. These trends may be related to the poorer auditory and kinesthetic imagery of the low-adjustment couples, as poor imagers have demonstrated more confabulation of the original stimuli in their images than good imagers (Sheehan, 1966). This deficit may promote verbal disagreements over differences in the recalled perception of low-adjustment spouses' shared experiences.