Matched versus unmatched primary representational systems relationship to perceived trustworthiness in a counseling analogue
Author: Falzett, William C., Jr.
Year of publication: 1979
Publishing house / periodical / university: Dissertation Abstracts International 41(1), 105-A Marquette University, 100 pp. Order = 8105176; Text can also be found in: Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1981, 28(4)
The purpose of this study was to examine experimentally the Bandler and Grinder (1976) statement that trust will be enhanced in a relationship if the counselor uses predicates that match the primary representational system (PRS) of the client. The PRS concept is based on the assumption that people organize their experiences of the world in internal maps which are in turn organized via visual, auditory, or kinesthetic sensory modes. A further assumption is that people tend to favor one sensory mode over the others and that that system will become the PRS. The concept also assumes that people become clients when their maps are limited or impoverished in some fashion. Counseling is then viewed as a process of understanding the PRS and opening the other sensory modes as organizers of experience in order to facilitate flexibility and growth. Bandler and Grinder (1976) stated that a counselor can enhance the process of counseling and build trust by using predicates that match the client’s PRS. The subjects were 24 female undergraduate students enrolled in education courses at Marquette University. The PRS was identified by noting predominant eye movement direction in response to a series of questions in an interview. The experimental design was a treatment by levels of analysis of variance with the levels dimension designated by the interviewer’s use of visual (Level 1), auditory (Level 2), or kinesthetic (Level 3) predicates and the treatments dimension designated as subject’s eye movements either matching or not matching the interviewer’s predicates. After the interview, subjects completed the Counselor Rating Form — CRF (Barak & LaCrosse, 1975) which is composed of a list of 12 bipolar adjectives indicative of trustworthiness. The results showed that the treatments dimension (Matched vs. Unmatched PRS) was significant. This result supported the contention that matching of the client’s PRS with counselor predicates can enhance the atmosphere of trust in the relationship. Recommendations for further research were also discussed.