RE: attitudes, beliefs & constructs

Devi Jankowicz (
Wed, 13 May 98 21:52:39 +0100

Brenda LeFrancois writes,

>I'm wondering,
>though, if you can tell me if laddering down and pyramiding are the
>same thing or if they are different, in what way?

Helen Jones knows more about this than I do: Helen, are you lurking there?

As I understand it, laddering up involves the question "WHY: why, for
you, is the preference for this pole of the construct important?"

Laddering down involves the question "HOW; in what way?"

And pyramiding involves exploring various "hows".

e.g., take the construct "Reliable - Unreliable" as used of a group of
employees by their immediate boss.

"In what way 'Unreliable?' Well, this one never gets in to work on time."

And in contrast?

"In contrast, these guys are good timekeepers"

Are there any other important ways in which people can be unreliable at

"You bet! This chap here, for example: I can never tell whether he's
understood the task brief I've given him. These, on the other hand, will
ask if they're unsure about something."

Anything else that's an important part of reliability as you see it?

"Not sure, really"

Well, look at the three people we took first, as elements. Are there any
other aspects of reliability that strike you as you think of the ways
they're alike and different?

"No, not these three. But these two, now, there's certainly a contrast
with them. X tends to moan about you behind your back and you never hear
about it except by a roundabout route; Y, on the other hand, will tell
you if he's unhappy so you can sort it out face to face."


In all of this, it would probably be best to agree on the construct label
for each of these three examples as your respondent tells you the
constructs s/he has in mind; and to elicit ratings while the particular
construct is still fresh in his/her mind. Remember, we're dealing with
different aspects of "Reliability", so getting immediate ratings on the
particular aspect of reliability being talked about at that time will
make for clarity.

The result can be seen as part of a hierarchical structure:


(if the formatting of these ASCII characters survives transmission!); a
pyramid, of sorts.