An Investigation of the Eye-Accessing Cues Theory of Neurolinguistic Programming
Richards, Justine Bess
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Introduction: Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is a psychological paradigm in use in many professional fields, including speech and language therapy. One aspect of this theory is the eye accessing cues (EAC) model which proposes that specific patterns of non-visual eye movements (EMs) are associated with an individual’s mode of thought. These modes of thought are described as visual, auditory and kinaesthetic and known as representational systems (RS). Proponents of the EAC model state that NLP practitioners are able to detect this pattern and use it to support communication. The majority of published studies do not support the EAC model although there are isolated studies showing partial support. Criticism exists regarding the validity of these studies, thus the validity of the EAC model remains contentious. This study aims to ascertain the validity of the EAC model and explore idiosyncratic patterns of EMs. Methodology: N=4 participants, 3 right handed and 1 left handed. The participants were blinded to the true aim of the study. Participants were asked 29 questions designed to elicit access of the six RS specified by the EAC model including 4 control questions. EMs were recorded with specialised goggles and a computer system. The raw data was analysed to identify dominant EMs for each question type. Data was cross-tabulated, and Fisher’s test and the Lambda test used to identify statistically significant associations. Two hypotheses were tested: Hypothesis 1: The EAC model is valid for the current sample. Hypothesis 2: Individual patterns of non-visual EMs exist in this sample and are related to question type. Results: Hypothesis 1: 80.6% of dominant EMs contradicted the predictions made by the EAC model. The Fisher’s test was non-significant (p=0.214). The lambda value was 0.056 and significant (p=0.04). Hypothesis 2: Participant-1; no individual pattern detected, Fisher’s test non-significant (p=0.091), moderate significant Lambda value (0.325, p<0.001). Participant-2; no individual pattern detected, Fisher’s value significant (p=0.004), moderate significant lambda value (0.316, p=0.04). Participant-3; no individual pattern detected, Fisher’s value significant (p=0.05), small non-significant lambda value (0.188, p=0.208). Participant-4; No individual pattern detected, Fisher’s value non-significant (p=0.267), small non-significant lambda value (0.107, p=0.546). Discussion: These results do not support the EAC model. There is some evidence of the existence of idiosyncratic EM patterns with an association between question type and dominant EM, although no specific patterns were detectable here. With the existing literature it has become clear that the EAC model is not valid in its present form. Conclusion: It is recommended that professionals do not use the EAC model as part of their practice. Further research is needed to further characterise the association between EMs and question type.
B.Sc.(Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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