9.2 IDENTIFYING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PEOPLE

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Cast your mind back to Sections 7.2.1 and 7.3.2. You’ll recall how careful we

were to ensure that the results of the content-analysis procedures described

there were acceptably reliable. The reason is quite simple. When you decide on

how other people’s constructs should be categorised as you did there, you

should do so in ways that would make sense to other people and not simply to

yourself. A content analysis is meant to be used by other people, and

idiosyncratic content analyses are simply less useful than content analyses

which don’t convey much meaning to others.

There are situations, however, when you need to capture people’s idiosyncracies

in order to work with them. Clearly, two single repertory grids, elicited

from two different people on the same topic, is an excellent way of doing so.

Having elicited two separate grids, you would go away and apply each of the

procedures outlined in Chapters 5 and 6 (especially the eyeball analysis of

Section 5.3.2) to each of the grids in a comparative way, noting the points of

similarity and difference which made sense to yourself as investigator.

Far better, though, to involve both interviewees in this analysis, focusing their

attention explicitly onto the similarities and differences with respect to each

other’s grid. One thinks of counselling and organisation development (OD)

situations (such as marital/partner guidance in the former case, and teambuilding

activities in the latter), in which the interviewees’ views of one

another are more informative than your own views as investigator.

Your argument here is represented very neatly in personal construct theory. Kelly’s

Individuality Corollary states that ‘People differ from each other in their construction

of events’, and, further, the Commonality Corollary reminds us that,‘to the extent that

one personemploys a construction of experiencewhichis similar to thatemployed by

another, hisprocessesarepsychologicallysimilar to those of theotherperson’.Inboth

cases, the simple comparisons between two gridswhich you suggest, carried out by

the investigator, are indicated.

However, as the Sociality Corollary hasit,‘To the extent that one person construesthe

construction process of another, he may play a role in a social process involving the

other person’, and the second kind of situation which you have described is one in

which it makes sense to capture the interviewee’s own construing of the other

interviewee’s construing directly. Getting a partner (married or lay, domestic or

occupational), or the members of a team, to work directly and explicitly with each

others’ constructs can illuminate the roles each other occupies, precisely because

counselling or OD activities of these kinds deal with those relationships between

people which are constrained and influenced bymutual expectations.These are preeminently

role relationships, and the Sociality Corollary is very pertinent.

The Sociality Corollary also suggests the procedure to follow. We’re concerned

to identify ‘the extent to which one person construes the construction

processes of another’. What kinds of differences are observable?

Well, there are broadly two approaches you might take. The first, in which two

people examine each other’s grids on a topic of common interest, is typical of

many OD team-building interventions. It simply hands over the responsibility

for the comparison and analysis to the individuals concerned, with yourself

acting in a general facilitating role. For want of a better word, let’s call this the

simple partnering approach. The second, the exchange grid, already has a

name as it’s a well-worn procedure. It’s more structured, and investigates

differences by requiring the interviewees to put themselves explicitly in each

other’s shoes, using each other’s constructs.