Repertory Grid

April 14, 2009

“The Repertory Grid method has a number of benefits for user experience research and design evaluation. Repertory Grid studies

  • quickly generate a large number of attributes, or constructs, that are useful in comparing different examples
  • elicit differentiating attributes in the participants’ vocabulary rather than the researcher’s vocabulary
  • identify constructs that are important to the participants rather than the researcher
  • provide a structured process for eliciting feedback that is easy for participants to understand”

“The Repertory Grid is a data extraction and analysis technique that has as its basis the Personal Construct Theory, which George Kelly developed in the 1950s. The central theme of the Personal Construct Theory is that people organize their experiences with the world into conceptual classifications that we can differentiate and describe using attributes of those classifications called constructs. Often, these constructs manifest themselves as polar opposites on a scale, so we can easily classify the elements of our world. For example, based on our experiences with people, we know that some are shy and others are outgoing. When we meet new people, we may consciously or subconsciously categorize them according to that construct.

An important element of the Personal Construct Theory is that each individual has his or her own unique set of constructs that are important to that person. Taking my example further, whether a new person is shy or outgoing might not be important to you in your categorization scheme, but it might be very important to someone else. George Kelly hypothesized that people are constantly challenging and growing their construct systems, but those systems remain unique to the individual, and the sum of each person’s experiences shapes them. In addition, the differences in people’s construct systems contribute to our different perceptions of the world and our behavior in it.”

From Michael Hawley: The Repertory Grid: Eliciting User Experience Comparisons in the Customer’s Voice

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