Ellis J L: Representational systems: an investigation of sensory predicate use in a self-disclosure interview.
Dissertation Abstracts International 41(11), 4244-B University of Minnesota (Pub = AAC8109421): 194, 1980.
Abstract: The present study was designed to provide a methodologically sound test of the model of representational systems as described by Richard Bandler and John Grinder (Bandler and Grinder, 1975; Grinder and Bandler, 1976), through the assessment of use of verbal predicates in describing experiences. Bandler and Grinder postulate that individuals differ in the degree to which they use of value their respective senses in processing or "representing" their experiences. They further postulate a direct relationship between an individual's most valued (sensory) system and the predicates that person chooses to describe his or her experience. Three groups of twenty female undergraduate subjects were recruited from three college majors which were expected to differ on the variable "most valued representational system". The majors were: Studio Art (presumed more visual); Music (presumed more auditory); and Physical Education (presumed more kinesthetic). Subjects participated in a structured interview in which they were asked to describe their experiences on four topics. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Rating rules were formulated and raters were trained to acceptable levels of pair-wise agreement. Following this, raters rated every verb, adverb, and adjective on the 240 topic-transcripts on a six category scale: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory, olfactory, and unspecified. Ratings were summed within topic and the proportion in each category was computed. A multivariate extension of a classic split-plot design was used to analyze predicate use. Analyses were completed only on the three categories of interest: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Statistical analyses showed all effects to be significant using the Hotelling-Lawley trace statistic. Major effect was significant at p=.00935; topic effect was significant at p=.00001; and the major by topic interaction effect was significant at p=.00011. Subsequent univariate analyses and follow-up pairwise contrasts on means revealed that Art students used more visual predicates than did Music or Phys. Ed. students and that Music students used more auditory predicates than did Art or Phys. Ed. students. These differences in predicate use, however, occurred on only two of the four topics used in the interview. Differences in kinesthetic predicate use were not significant on any topics. Subjects also rated themselves (using Likert-type scales) on the degree to which they believed themselves to be visual, auditory, etc. There were no differences between majors that were significant at p=.05, but Art students tended to describe themselves as more visual than did Music or Phys. Ed. students (p=.0543). Correlations between predicate ratings and self-ratings were also computed. The only significant positive correlation observed was between auditory predicate ratings and auditory self-ratings. The correlation was .336 (p=.008). While several of the findings could clearly be interpreted as supporting the model of representational systems as proposed by Bandler and Grinder, there are many discrepancies between the data observed and predictions of the model. A competing explanation for the results is introduced and discussed. It is concluded that while the model of representational systems may be a useful metaphor which has some basis in fact, it still remains empirically unvalidated.