ACADEMIC ATTITUDES

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There’s a certain approach taken to repertory grids, and especially to the

theoretical underpinning, personal construct psychology, in university

psychology departments. The theory tends to be offered, at a rather basic

level, as part of course on personality, and the technique, where it’s made

available, in a two-hour seminar workshop in which the bare bones are

practised but the applications, variants, and solutions to practical problems –

‘how do I present the grid results of a large sample of people rather than the

single person on whom I practised?’ being the most common – are never

addressed in any detail.

The attitude stems from a preference for positivist epistemology within the

psychological profession, even where the more recent constructivist

approaches are known about, and the related techniques understood. (If

you’re curious about all this, you might like to glance at Jankowicz, 1987a;

Neimeyer, 1983, or the fuller treatment in Neimeyer, 1985.)

The result has been that the repertory grid technique is little used beyond its

specialist adherents, and the central value of personal construct psychology as

the basis for understanding all epistemologies in the first place has been

scandalously neglected – often in favour of a pointless argument between

proponents of qualitative versus quantitative methods, statistical versus

experiential approaches, all of which is largely irrelevant. And so, people

like myself, part of an international network of personal construct

psychologists numbering no more, I would guess, than a thousand

worldwide, are approached to train those who should already be trained.

One does what one can, and this book is part of it.