Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Bancller and Grinder (1975, 1976) propose a model oE communication and change which is based on the assumption that the language used by an individual directly reflects the sensory nature of his conscious experience. A preference for some mode(s) over others for representation of experience is purportedly evidenced by relatively more frequent occurrence in the person's speech of predicates specific to the favored mode(s). Further, imagery is said to be more vivid in preferred representational systems.

The present study was designed to investigate the relationship between modality specific predicate usage and vividness of sensory imagery. Subjects were 42 undergraduate students (22 male, 20 female) who participated in order to obtain research credit in their psychology course. In Part I of the study, the Sheehan (1967) Shortened Form of Betts' (1909) Questionnaire Upon Mental Imagery was group administered during psychology recitation sections. In Part II, subjects were individually seen and a speech sample obtained. Each subject related three vivid experiences to the experimenter in monologue form which were tape recorded. Transcripts were analyzed for predicate content. During Part III, subjects were individually interviewed by the experimenter who, through appropriate inquiry, sought to ascertain the modality reference of ambiguous and unspecified predicates in the speech sample. Each subject ultimately obtained, for each of five sensory modalities, imagery vividness scores and predicate frequency scores for three language sub-samples and the total language sample.

Contrary to expectation, imagery vividness was not found to correlate with frequency of predicate usage for the sensory modalities. Pattern analyses run separately on imagery scores and on each language sub-sample and total language sample, however, did reveal groups of subjects with distinct patterns of strengths and weaknesses across modalities. A salient feature of the imagery pattern analysis is the moderately high vividness of kinesthetic imagery characterizing all identified groups and the considerable variability evident in all other modes. In contrast, all language pattern analyses show very high kinesthetic predicate frequency and very low olfactory and gustatory predicate usage for all groups. Constituency of groups was not maintained across language sub-samples.

These findings call into question the use of imagery and introspective self-report measures as appropriate to investigation of sensory modality preference in representation of experience. In addition, various predicate scoring and language data collection problems are noted which may have contributed to the insignificant results obtained. More explicit language assessment methods and more complete guidelines for implementation of the model are needed. Some of the weaknesses inherent in the Bandler and Grinder theory are discussed and it is concluded that at present insufficient evidence precludes adequate valuation of the theory.