R. A. Neimeyer, U of Memphis (neimeyerra@MSUVX1.MEMPHIS.EDU)
Tue, 27 Feb 1996 19:30:56 -0600


Let me share a few reactions to your latest posting. I will make a
concerted effort to accept your invitation to "speak as men of honor." If
we can mutually work toward this, then we could have an inclusive dialogue
about constructivist issues that is worthy of the time and attention of
others reading these postings. If this proves impossible, then I will
exempt myself from attempting to communicate on this issue in this public
forum, and will instead request that you direct personal correspondence to
me if they concern our relationship. I am not interested in fostering
either "war" or "tyranny" in this democratic electronic arena, but mutual
exploration of ideas that matter to us and to others.

First, let me try briefly to "clear the air" with you, then move on to
substantive matters embedded in your last communication, as well as in the
subsequent posting by Jon Raskin. To the best of my knowledge, I have
never (a) been your teacher, (b) supervised your research, (c) written
recommendation letters concerning your employment, (d) reviewed your papers
for professional journals, (e) rejected your papers from conferences, or
taken other actions to silence your opinions or adversely affect your
career. The few hours of contact we have had over the years primarily took
place during my occasional visits to the University of Florida, my
undergrad alma mater, during your subsequent graduate study there. If you
are upset about something that happened or failed to happen during your
time at Florida, then I would encourage you to pursue it with those
involved in the appropriate forum. I do not believe that this is that

Second, let me shift to the substantive content of your posting, touching
on two features that strike me as potentially worthy of more discussion.
The first concerns the coordinate grid, which you rightly point out invites
respondents to compare the similarity of their constructs directly, rather
than inferring construct relationships through their common application to
constructs. While I have not used the coordinate grid myself, I have
experimented with measures like the implications grid, which similarly
assume that individuals can report the level of (implicative) relationship
between constructs in their system. Interestingly, when Dave Dempsy and I
researched the issue (see Jnl of Constructivist Psychology, 8, 3, 1995), we
found a significant degree of convergence between the impgrid and standard
repgrid methods at several levels: (a) Molar: overall structure of the
grid, (b) Molecular: average degree of relationship of particular
constructs with others in the grid, and (c) Atomic: relations between
specific construct pairs. I am not suggesting that the impgrid is
equivalent to your coordinate grid or superior to it, but simply that more
and less direct measures may actually yield converging, rather than
diverging results. Have you done any studies of the relationship between
the coordinate grid and standard repgrid methods that would shed light on
this issue?

More theoretically, I do have questions about whether the Socratic method
(or any method) can be counted on to produce consensus among a group of
construers. I must say that I experienced the Socratic dialogues as subtly
hostile, in Kelly's sense, with Socrates assiduously avoiding taking his
interlocutors' positions seriously (credulously, in Kelly's terms), except
as a foil for his own viewpoint. I experience much the same discomfort and
frustration when I watch some cognitive therapists systematically reveal
the "cognitive distortions" or "irrationalities" of their clients through
similarly "socratic" means. Having listened to Kelly's tapes and had the
opportunity to observe many personal construct therapists, this form of
"dialogue" seems conspicuously absent in a PCP approach.

Finally, readers who share Jon Raskin's concern with ethics might like to
discuss the issue with Dusan Stojnov, who has written a paper entitled
Kelly's theory of ethics: Hidden, mislaid, or misleading, which will
appear in a forthcoming JCP. I believe he is a participant in this

Your thoughts on these substantive points would be welcome, as well as the
reflections of others.

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-4680
FAX (901) 678-2579