Laddering & Pyramiding-Correction

Beverly Walker (
18 May 1996 14:15:43 +1000

Dear John, Lois,
John's account has a slight problem in that he has reversed the titles for the
two techniques.
Laddering is the technique that asks 'why' questions and elicits constructs of
increasing superordinacy, which are very frequently also core.
This example I got in class last week. we started with curly hair vs
straight. By asking which you prefer, and then why do you prefer that (it was
curly hair) successively, we eventually ended up with Interesting
Interesting-boring. That one is fairly straightforward, but you can get some
spectacular surprises. IT MUST BE USED WITH GREAT CARE.
Pyramiding (sometimes called laddering down) asks how and what questions - how
would I know if something was interesting, what's an example? What would
something that is boring be like? this elicits increasingly subordinate
construing. Landfield uses it very formally, wheras Fransella and her
colleagues seem to use it more flexibly, not just rigidly eliciting two
constructs for each construct, one per pole as Landfield does.
devi, you don't just use these techniques with repgrids. i've had students do
their theses just using say laddering. Not a repgrid, or any other grid, in
These techniques would be used far more often than repgrids by clinicians and
counsellors. I think that maybe the reason why Lois gets the impression we
are grid focused in pcp is that people have the most problems with grids and
need to ask lots of questions about them.
Beverly (Walker)