Representational systems (also known as sensory modalities) are ways in which the human mind processes and stores information. We use these sensory modalities to organize and understand experiences or situations. These representational systems are categorized into: visual, auditory, kinesthetic and auditory digital.
A person’s eyes move involuntarily with what’s being thought. These eye movements access different parts of the person’s neurology and can depict whether a person is thinking in pictures (visual), sounds (auditory) or feelings (kinesthetic).
The image below shows these eye accessing cues when the person is standing in front of you:
(This pattern appears to be constant for right handed people, many left handed people, however, tend to be reversed from left to right. That is, their eye accessing cues are the mirror image of those of the average right hander.)
Take a moment to think about the following questions and notice in which direction your eyes move when thinking of the answer. It’s easier to notice the eye movements on others so if you can, ask a friend and notice where their eyes go.
1. What’s the color of your favorite t-shirt? How many windows do you have in your home? (VR)
2. What would you look like in 30 years? How would an elephant look like in pink pajamas? (VC)
3. Remember a school bell from your past, how does it sound like? What noise does a pig make? (AR)
4. How would your phone sound like if it were ringing under water? What would your voice sound like if you were Donald Duck? (AC)
5. What does your voice sound like when you talk to yourself? Recite something to yourself. (AD)
6. What does cat fur feel like? how does it feel like to take a warm bath? (K)
A visual preference may mean that you’re able to see your way clearly, keep an eye on things, and take a long-term view. You may enjoy visual images, design, watching sports, and the symbols involved in studying physics, math, or chemistry. You understand better through the use of graphs and charts, rather than speech. You may need to live or work in attractively designed environments. You think by making pictures, so you will understand better if you are shown pictures.
An auditory preference may mean that you’re able to tune into new ideas, maintain harmonious relationships, and that you’re happy to listen to the opinions of others. You may enjoy music, drama, writing, speaking, and literature. You may be highly tuned into the sound levels in your environment. You learn by listening, and enjoy phone conversations.
A kinesthetic preference may mean that you’re able to get to grips with new trends, keep a balance, and hold tight on to reality. You may enjoy contact sports, athletics, climbing, and working with materials-electronics, manufacturing, hairdressing, or construction. You may be sensitive to the textures and feel of your environment. You tend to stand closer to others and like to touch people.
Usually, people move their eyes related to their primary representational modality. However, a highly visual person may tend to look up and to the left or right, regardless of which sensory modality is assumed by your question. If you ask such a person to think of his or her “favorite song,” a visual person may visualize the cover of the record or video clip in order to remember the name of the song. A kinesthetically oriented person may look down, accessing his or her feelings about several songs to know which one is his or her “favorite.” Therefore it is important to ask people what they did in their minds while looking at their eye movements; these are a guide to the thought process, but not the content of a person’s thoughts.
Eye movements can also be used to determine how truthful or congruent a person is being. If a person is describing an event that he or she has witnessed or participated in, for instance, the person’s eyes should move primarily to his or her left. If the person looks up and to the right (VC) a lot, it is likely that the person is reconstructing some aspect of the experience he or she is describing. This may indicate that the person is either uncertain or being untruthful about what he or she is saying. Be careful assuming someone is untruthful. For example, suppose you asked someone a question about something that he had never thought about before, his eyes would most likely move to visual or auditory constructed.