Self-Characterisation

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Self-characterisation technique requires the interviewee to write about him- or

herself. The interviewee provides a character sketch, usually written in the

third person as if s/he were describing someone else. The interviewee is

encouraged to be explicit, but also to regard the task as a pleasant one rather

than a clinical dissection, by being asked to write ‘just as if he were the

principal character in a play . . . as it might be written by a friend who knew

him very intimately and very sympathetically, perhaps better than anyone

ever really could know him’ Kelly (1955/1991: 323).

The character sketch, which should be longer than just a few sentences, is then

analysed, preferably in collaboration with the interviewee, to identify the

themes, traits, and personal characteristics which the interviewee has

attributed to him- or herself; the constructs, in other words, which s/he has

about him- or herself. The picture you obtain can then be triangulated with a

conventional grid for a more comprehensive account of the individual in the

context of a given topic.