1.2 WHAT THIS BOOK CONTAINS

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We start off in Chapter 2 with a description of what a repertory grid is, what it

consists of, and why you would want to use one. A completed sample grid is

provided so that you can see the beast for yourself, while the exercise gets you

used to the basic constituents of a grid, which are called ‘constructs’.

Chapter 3 provides you with the procedural steps involved in conducting a

grid interview (or eliciting a grid; the terms are synonymous), how to prepare

for it, and what the different design options might be. The exercises have you

eliciting a grid, and experimenting with the options available to you.

Chapter 4 is a refresher and problem-solving facility. I have tried to anticipate

the kinds of questions you might be wanting to ask after you’ve attempted

your first grid, and have provided you with what I hope will be helpful

answers – plus some further resources, including electronic ones, where you

might find further assistance. The exercises seek to develop your ability to

resolve issues that arise in grid technique. Partly, this depends on becoming

sensitive to the grid interview as a delicate interpersonal and social process,

and, to that end, you are referred to Appendix 2, which provides a detailed

transcript of a grid interview session keyed to the exercises.

Once you’ve got that far, you’ve come a long way! You know a lot of what

there is to know about elicitation, and the next step is to examine the rich

information that a grid provides, and to see how it might be analysed. Chapter

5 addresses the basic analysis of a single repertory grid, encouraging you to

take account of the process by which you arrived at your interviewee’s

meanings, as well as describing what’s to be seen, and how it might be

interpreted. By the end of this chapter, you should know how to get at the

meanings being expressed in a single grid. The exercises are designed to give

you practice at doing just that: process analysis, simple eyeball analysis, and

some construct categorisation.

Chapter 6 takes you a step further, looking at the informational relationships

within the grid. Where the previous chapter was largely descriptive, and you

made relatively little use of all the numbers, Chapter 6 outlines ways in which

you can examine relationships within the grid, using the numbers.

. ‘Is it really true that this person likes his best friend better than himself?’

. ‘I got the feeling in the grid interview that the interviewee described her boss

in terms very similar to those she uses when she talks about her main

competitor’s MD. Can I see any particular evidence for that?’

. ‘If I understand the interviewee correctly, this company’s unique selling

proposition is practically the opposite of those used by its competitors. Have

I understood that accurately; how can I check it?’

. ‘Whenever this student says he’s confident about a subject he’s studying, he

also says he had to rely on other people to learn it properly. Is there a

relationship between his social support and how effectively he learns?’

Some simple, and some more complex, procedures are outlined by which

relationships of these kinds can be examined. The exercises provide an

opportunity to practise different components of the analysis procedures.

One of the criticisms that can be levelled at existing ways of teaching repertory

grid technique is that relatively little time is spent in teaching people how to

analyse sets of grids. A grid is a very rich and complex description of one

person’s views (in fact, it’s been designed as the individual assessment device

par excellence!) and, perhaps as a result, the analysis of samples of repertory

grids is rather neglected. Chapter 7 is an attempt to put that right. It provides

two different forms of content analysis for the aggregation of grid materials,

advocates the use of differential analyses within very simple research designs,

and emphasises the importance of reliability in the analysis process. The

exercises give practice in all of this.

Chapter 8 provides an introduction to what is, arguably, the most important

and powerful activity associated with grid work: the description and selfassessment

of the interviewee’s personal value system. Along the way, it

tackles the issue of social desirability responding (‘faking good’), and, as an

outcome, provides you with a credible and powerful way of addressing the

problem. The exercises encourage you to consider your own values in a given

situation, prioritise them, and examine what might be required for you to

change them!

Finally, in the last chapter, we confront the major issue of change itself.

Change and difference: how can you tell when someone has changed their

mind? And how can you assess how well one person understands another

person’s mind? Is it really possible to get into the other’s head and see the

world through their eyes rather than your own? The examples check how well

you have understood the procedures involved.