Repertory Grids

George Kelly had a degree in physics and mathematics. So it is perhaps not surprising that he wanted to ‘measure’ how the units of this theory, ‘constructs’, relate to one another.

At one level grids are the simplest things in the world. You start with an empty matrix of rows and columns. The complexities arise when you want to fill those empty spaces.

There are many types of grid to choose from. These include the ratings grid; exchange grids; decision making grids; training needs analysis grids; implications grids and bi-polar impgrids; resistance-to-change grids; dependency grids; non-verbal grids and qualitative grids. Details of some of the grids currently in use can be found in the second edition of A Manual for Repertory Grid Technique (Fransella, Bell & Bannister, 2004).

1. The ratings grid has ‘events’ (elements) heading the columns and bi-polar constructs in the rows. The person then rates each construct on, say, a 7-point scale according to how they relate to the element heading that column.

2.  Implications and resistance to change grids.  These were created by Dennis Hinkle and described in the PhD dissertation that he did at the State University of Ohio under the supervision of George Kelly in 1965.  His work is probably the most cited of all publications on personal construct psychology.  Hinkle suggested that Kelly's theory might also be described as a "Theory of Implications".  To test out some of the hypotheses derived from this theory he designed the implications grid and the resistance-to-change grid.  The best known of his original ideas is the procedure he invented for the elicitation of superordinate personal constructs, which he called laddering.

Hinkle's research demonstrated that the more superordinate (important) a personal construct is, the more 'implications' it has.  This work has never been published and Hinkle has published very little other work.  He has worked mainly as a psychotherapist.  Laddering, the resistance to change grid and Fay Fransella's modification of his implications grid are all taught in the Centre's distance learning courses.

3.  Exchange grids are ratings grids completed by two people each containing their own personal constructs. Each person is then given a grid with the other’s elements and constructs in it and is asked to put in the ratings as they think the other might have done. The differences are then discussed.

4.  Decision-making grids are just that - they are a method by which people can be helped to choose between the various options they have, whether that is in relation to choosing their career, the place in which they are going to live or the degree they are going to take.

5. Training needs analysis grids are very simple grids that can be used to help someone identify the skills required for the job and then to see by how much they need to change to develop their skills to the required level.

6. Dependency grids were called "Situational Resources Grids" by Kelly. In these grids the person is presented with a series of personally relevant situations and indicates who he or she might turn to if in trouble and sometimes who might turn to them.

7. Grids need not all be verbal. Ravenette (2005) spent his professional life working with children and developed ways of creating non-verbal grids using pictures and drawings to elicit personal constructs from children. Many others have developed non-verbal methods for use with children or adults, for example Baillie-Grohman (1975) used drawings created by profoundly deaf adolescents. Procter (2005, 2008) has developed a series of qualitative grids.



Fransella, F. (1972) Personal Change and Reconstruction. London: Academic Press

Fransella, Bell & Bannister (2004) A Manual for Repertory Grid Technique (2nd ed Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons

Hinkle, D. N. (1965) The Change of Personal Constructs from the Viewpoint of a Theory of Implications. PhD dissertation, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Procter, H. (2005) “Family therapy”. In F. Fransella (ed) The Essential Practitioner’s Handbook of Personal Construct Psychology. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons

Procter, H. & Procter, J. (2008) “The use of qualitative grids to examine the development of the construct good and evil in Byron’s play ‘Cain: a mystery’. J Constructivist Psychol, 21, 343-354

Ravenette, A. T. (2005) “Constructive intervention with children when presented as problems” In F. Fransella (ed) The Essential Practitioner’s Handbook of Personal Construct Psychology. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons


"It would, in my opinion, be a serious mistake for psychologists who hope to raise man from the position of an unwitting subject in an experiment to
a posture of greater dignity, to abandon technology. The spirit of man is not enlarged by withholding his tools.......A man without instruments may
look dignified enough to those who do not stand in his shoes, but he most certainly will be incapable of making the most of his potentialities"

(Kelly, 1969, “Humanistic methodology in psychological research”. In Maher, B. Clinical Psychology and Personality: the Selected Papers of George Kelly
Chichester, UK: Wiley p. 143).


A Manual for Repertory Grid Technique (Fransella, F. Bell, R. & Bannister, D. 2004).
Published by John Wiley & Sons

Denny Hinkle and Joey

A grid element created
 by profoundly
 deaf adolescents

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