Re: Help with the laddering procedure

Robin Hill (bsrah@TWP.AC.NZ)
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 11:32:55 +1200


I use laddering quite a bit. My first step is usually to ask the
respondent to choose one pole or other of the construct. Depending
on the purpose of the exercise that might be a choice "in terms of
preference," or "in terms of priority," or whatever. My first "Why?"
question is then usually "Why did you make that choice?" As with all
the previous messages to this list, I find that I am then very
quickly into asking "Why is that important to you?" The main reason
I have sent this message to the list, is that I often find it useful
to couch this "Why?" question as a "so what?" question.

For example, in terms of, say, vocational/career preferences with a
client who is a job seeker, or exploring an alternative occupation,
the procedure I use would go like this.

"I want you to imagine that you have been applying for jobs. You
have had two interviews, and today you have been offered two
positions as a result of those interviews. I want you to imagine
that the two jobs are identical in every respect, except that one is
characterised by this pole of the construct while the other job is
characterised by the other pole. Of the two, which job would you

The client might choose "interesting" ahead of "boring."

My first "Why?" question would be "Why did you make that choice?"

The response might be "I get a sense of achievement from interesting

My next "Why?" question would probably be someting like "Why is a
sense of achievement important to you?" If there is a pause and no
answer, the prompt I might use is "So what, if you didn't get a sense
of achievement?"

Of course, I adapt this depending upon the reason for doing the
laddering. Rather than occupations, the context of interest might be
personl projects, tasks performed as part of one's role, or indeed,
whatever the original elements happened to be.

Does this help?

Dr. Robin Hill

Principal Lecturer & Research Leader
Department of Business Studies
The Waikato Polytechnic
Private Bag 3036
Hamilton 2020
New Zealand

Fax. NZ (07) 834-8802