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Exploring attitudes and perceptions through personal constructs


For several years as a trainer and consultant I was looking for a techniques which examined or measured changes in perception, attitude and other ‘soft’ areas of a person’s interest and ability. It was not until I started to explore the work of Kelly with repertory grids and personal construct psychology that I found a satisfactory way.

Now without going into the technical aspects of this jargon-loaded approach, here are some basic elements. In interviewing individuals on any chosen topic or issue, the respondent identifies several examples for themselves. They are then presented with a very simple way of comparing these different examples in a number of different combination ways. As a result, the respondent generates a series of personal constructs. These constructs have been shown to closely relate to the individual and personal attitudes and ‘ways of looking at the world’ held by that respondent.

Various options are then possible. You can ask respondents to place ‘ideal’ examples into their frame of reference. They can repeat the activity on later occasions to show changes in attitude or perception over time. The perceptions of one person can be set alongside those of another.

I’ve used the technique several times to measure and demonstrate graphically the attitudinal aspects of people I am working with e.g. to demonstrate how a programme has shifted a participant’s sense of self-confidence, to explore how training changes someone’s perception of their skills level, or to help a client to examine more self-conscious elements of their behaviour such as attitudes to discrimination.

There are several books available on personal construct psychology (use any search engine) and one excellent computer programme for producing and analysing repertory grids (RepGrid for the Mac).

Now RepGrid is available for use over the Internet. Check either of the following sites to explore further:

Tim Pickles


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