What is the Repertory Grid Method (RGM)?

This method was developed by Kelly (1955) to support psychotherapy and it spread into a variety of different areas of research including marketing. One of its two central assumptions is that there is no direct, immediate access to objective reality, because everything that people know was filtered by individual perception and further information processing. Correspondingly, people live in their unique subjective reality and all their actions can only refer to that. Another important assumption is that people attribute meaning to something and understand something (also a person, event, etc.) by comparing it with other things that they already know. A repertoire of personal constructs helps them to group everything according to its similarity and dissimilarity in order to reconstruct reality and their position within that. Pupils, for instance, could use the construct “fair-unfair” to differentiate between teachers; a new teacher would be judged upon that construct with reference to teachers they already know. This demonstrates that personal constructs consist of binary oppositions and that every new object is assigned a position within that dichotomy (Durgee 1986, p. 34). The objective of RGM is to uncover the repertoire of personal constructs. The challenge is that they are often difficult to express in verbal distinctions, because a great deal of them are subconscious. Therefore relying on simple direct questioning is inadequate. According to its theoretic base, RGM elicits personal constructs with an iterative process that requires respondents to compare different triad combinations of stimuli, to express their constructs and to relate the stimuli to the construct poles. Irrespective of its specific version, RGM leads to structured data that facilitate elaborate analysis and interpretation (c.f. Eden and Jones 1984; Fromm 2004).






Durgee, J.: 1986, Depth-Interview Techniques for Creative Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research 25(6), 29–37.
Eden, C. and Jones, S.: 1984, Using Repertory Grids for Problem Construction, Journal of the Operational Research Society 35(9), 779–790.
Fromm, M.: 2004, Introduction to the Repertory Grid Interview, Waxmann, Muenster.
Kelly, G. A.: 1955, The Psychology of Personal Constructs, W W Norton & Co, New York.