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The self characterisation
Kelly described two methods of psychological assessment, the repertory grid and the self characterisation. Whereas the repertory grid involves both qualitative and quantitative measurement, the self characterisation is a purely qualitative method. But it is clearly a method Kelly, himself, was very keen on. He said it was designed to fulfil his first principle: "if you do not know what is wrong with someone, ask them, they may tell you" (Kelly, 1955/ 1991, p. 323/ Vol 1, p. 241). It is one of his examples of the application of the credulous approach. One is not interested in the truth or falsehood of the person's views but simply in the ways in which they view themselves and their relationships with others. Its analysis does not rest on the derivation of quotients for pleasure-pain statements, or on counts of such things as negative and positive statements. Instead, as Kelly puts it, one "listens to nature babbling to herself" and seeks to gain some insights into another's personal construct system.
The self characterisation is used by many counsellors and therapists but also by those working with managers, teachers, in fact, anyone who agrees to carry out the task for some specific purpose. In fact, many people find it a useful way to explore their own construing from time to time.
Details of the method can be found in Fransella, Bell and Bannister (2003).  

  • Fransella, F., Bell, R. & Bannister, D. (2003) A Manual for Repertory Grid Technique (2nd edition) Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Fay Fransella

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004