2.1.2 So What Is a Repertory Grid?

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A repertory grid, then, is simply a set of rating scales which uses the

individual’s own constructs as the subject matter on which ratings are carried

out.

No, it’s not! That’s simply oneway of thinkingabout a repertory grid.Some other ways

are as:

. a form of structured interviewing, with ratings or without, which arrives at a precise

description uncontaminated by the interviewer’s own viewpoint

Table 2.2 Examples of elements

If the topic were . . . . . . the elements could be

‘Lecturers’ The names of the lecturers who teach you

‘My colleagues’ The names of your colleagues at work

‘Cars I’d like to buy’ The various models of cars you’re thinking of

buying

‘Effective supervisors’ A list of supervisors you’ve known in the past

(including more, and less, effective ones)

‘Government policy papers on

education’

A list of the papers, by title

‘Competencies required in a

particular job’

A list of the main task activities which an employee

has to perform (or, alternatively, the names of a

set of people who do the job, some well, others

less so)

‘Perfumes’ A list of perfume brands (or better still, samples of

the perfumes themselves)

Usable elements are very varied. In these examples, I’ve used people’s names, car model names,

titles of articles, sets of activities, and the actual objects themselves. Instead of people’s names I

could have used their photographs, or, on the other hand, a code letter if anonymity was an issue.

The important thing is not to mix categories: don’t combine names, activities, and objects into a

single set of elements. The set should be ‘all of a kind’.

. an ideal way of conducting a pilot study before using more conventional survey

techniques

. avery useful integratingdevice, that allowsyou to build bridgesbetweenqualitative

and quantitative research techniques. The qualitative material is expressed and

analysed in a non-woolly, demonstrably reliableway, while quantitative information

is obtained which stays true to, and precisely conveys, a person’s personally

intendedmeaning.

Actually, I’mnot really arguingwith you.One of the fundamental assumptionsmade by

George Kelly when developing the Role Construct RepertoryTest (Kelly,1955/1991) is

what he called constructive alternativism. By this, he meant that different people

have different ways of construing the same thing; also, that a single person always

has the option of construing the samething differently on two separate occasions.So

you have to grant me that it’s possible to accept a variety of different definitions of a

repertory grid. To see something as ‘nothing but’ is to be pre-emptive (see Section

5.3.3) ^ to ignore other options and narrow your focus excessively (Pervin,1973).

Fair enough. And I’ll admit that there are occasions when thinking of a grid in

terms of ratings which are numbers, and rating scales made up of words,

obscures the fact that all of this is simply a way of expressing underlying

preferences; in other words, of representing the choices which a person makes

in his or her thinking well before they’re put into symbols. We’ll get on to that

eventually.

For the time being, it suits my purposes to teach the essentials of the grid as a

simple, but powerful, rating-scale technique.