Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

William R. Dobson


William R. Dobson


The purpose of this dissertation was to determine the usefulness of primary representational systems (prs) as a basis for improved comprehension and communication. Primary representational systems were discussed as being cognitive representations of experience which are revealed through auditory (A), visual (V), or kinesthetic (K) language.

Specifically, this study tested Bandler and Grinder's assumption that an identified A, V, or K individual would better comprehend a communication which contained predicates representative of that individual's prs. Comprehension was operationalized into general information (GI) and specific predicate usage (SPU) segments in order to isolate possible group differences on this dimension.

A total of 80 volunteers were screened from undergraduate psychology courses in order to determine individuals' prs. The prs was determined by each individual's preference for either A, V, or K predicates on a taped language sample. No A individuals were identified and this category was subsequently dropped from the study. Twenty identified "visuals" and 20 identified "kinesthetics" were randomly assigned to either the V or K experimental conditions. These experimental conditions consisted of a test of comprehension given over a role -played, taped therapy session using primarily either V or K predicates. Kuder-Richardson reliability for the V and K tests of comprehension was .52 and .70 respectively.

It was found that the V and K groups did not differ in their overall comprehension of V and K taped therapy sessions. These groups did differ, however, when the type of comprehension (GI or SPU) factor was considered.

Specifically, it was found that V individuals comprehended V SPU questions better than K individuals and that K individuals comprehended K SPU questions better than V individuals. It was also noted that V individuals were relatively worse at comprehending K SPU questions than K individuals were at comprehending V SPU questions.

These findings were discussed in the context of their potential utility in the psychotherapeutic domain. A speculative discussion was offered which suggested language as the mechanism of psychotherapeutic commonality. Future research directions were suggested among which was the possibility of using the visual and tactual-kinesthetic mediums more in psychotherapeutic communication.



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