Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eye Paterns NLP Representational systems and accessing cues

A basic assumption of NLP is that internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language consist of visual, auditory, kinesthetic (and possibly olfactory and gustatory) representations that are engaged when people think about problems, tasks or activities, or engage in them. Internal sensory representations are constantly being formed and activated. Whether making conversation, talking about a problem, reading a book, kicking a ball or riding a horse, internal representations have an impact on performance. NLP techniques generally aim to change behavior through modifying the internal representations, examining the way a person represents a problem and by building desirable representations of alternative outcomes or goals. In addition, Bandler and Grinder claimed that the representational system use could be tracked using eye movements, gestures, breathing, sensory predicates and other cues in order to improve rapport and social influence.

Some of these ideas of sensory representations and associated therapeutic ideas appear to have been imported from gestalt therapy shortly after its creation in the 1970s.

Eye Paterns (NLP)
The most common arrangement for eye accessing cues in a right-handed person.

Note: - NLP does not say it is 'always' this way, but rather that one should check whether reliable correlations seem to exist for an individual, and if so what they are
Accessing cues
Bandler and Grinder claimed that matching and responding to the representational systems people use to think is generally beneficial for enhancing rapport and influence in communication. They proposed several models for this purpose including eye accessing cues and sensory predicates. The direction of eye accesses was considered an indicator of the type of internal mental process (see the chart):
'v'isual — up to left or right
'a'uditory — level to left or right
'k'inesthetic — down to the right

The sensory predicates, breathing posture and gestures were also considered important. In the sensory predicate model, if someone said:

"that rings true for me", rings predicates auditory processing.
"that's clearer now", the sensory predicates clearer indicates some internal visual representation.
"I can see a bright future for myself", the sensory predicates see and bright indicates some internal visual processing.
"I can grasp a hold of the concept", the sensory predicates grasp and hold indicates primarily kinesthetic processing
These verbal cues are often coupled with posture changes, eye movements, skin color or breathing shifts. Essentially, it was claimed that the practitioner could ascertain the current sensory mode of thinking from external cues such as the direction of eye movements, posture, breathing, eye movements, voice tone and the use of sensory-based predicates.

Preferred representational systems
The majority of research (as published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology in the early 1980s) focused on Bandler and Grinder's claim that a preferred representational system (PRS) exists and is effective in counseling-client influence. Put simply, they claimed that some people prefer visual, auditory, or kinesthetic processing. Further, a therapist (or communicator) could be more influential by matching the other's preferred system. Christopher Sharpley's review of counselling psychology literature on PRS found that it could not be reliably assessed, it was not certain that it even existed and it could not be demonstrated to reliably assist counselors. Buckner (published after Sharpley) found some support for the notion that eye movements can indicate visual and auditory (but not kinesthetic) components of thought in that moment.

While some NLP training programs and books still feature PRS, many have modified or dropped it. Richard Bandler, for example, de-emphasized its importance in an interview with the Enhancing Human Performance subcommittee. John Grinder, in the New Code of NLP, emphasizes individual calibration and sensory acuity, precluding such a rigidly specified model as the one described above. Responding directly to sensory experience requires an immediacy which respects the importance of context. Grinder also stated in an interview that a representational system diagnosis lasts about 30 seconds.