NLP Predicate Nonverbal Behavior

Speaking the client’s language: the effects of Neurolinguistic Programming (predicate matching) on verbal and nonverbal behaviors in psychotherapy. A single case design

Author: Frieden, Fredrick P.
Year of publication: 1981
Publishing house / periodical / university: Dissertation Abstracts International 42(3), 1171-B Virginia Commonwealth University, 146 pp. Pub. = AAC8118960

Bandler and Grinder’s (1976) technique of Neurolinguistic Programming (predicate matching) was tested as to its effects on trust, communicative behaviors and outcome. Two female undergraduate students seeking counseling for personal problems were the participants in the present study. The participants, after an initial baseline session, received alternating sessions where the therapist/experimenter systematically matched or mismatched the sensory predicates used by the clients/participants. The clients/participants rated “relationship” after each session as measured by the Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory. They also rated pre-post therapy symptoms on the Target Complaints Scale. Trained judges viewed and coded segments of videotapes from eight therapy sessions with each client/participant. Client verbal behavior measures included length of utterance, speech errors, client requests for rephrasing and level of self-exploration. Client nonverbal behavior measures included head-to-head distances, angle of lean, facial observation (eye contact), and facial pleasantness. Therapist verbal behavior measures were monitored for accuracy of matching, mismatching, or non-sensory language and type of therapist intervention. A global measure of therapist/experimenter nonverbal warmth was obtained to monitor therapist warmth as a moderator variable. The results obtained suggested partial support for Bandler and Grinder’s (1976) theories. When some of the data was averaged it appeared that predicate matching produced increased eye contact and paradoxically increased head-to-head distance. These findings were discussed in terms of anxiety or intimacy regulation. “Relationship” as measured by the BLRI was not affected by the independent variable of matching/mismatching. Outcome as measured by the target complaints indicated that each client/participant experienced improvements in all three identified symptom areas. This study concluded with a discussion of client differences, methodological problems, implications for theory, training and future research.

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