Susceptibility to change of reality concept

Rob Steventon (
Sat, 18 Sep 1999 21:47:36 -0700

Can I try out an idea on the network, please?

I am presently planning a study to examine susceptibility to change in
people's concepts of reality. That is, I want to see how people construe
the very concept 'reality' before, during, and after my series of
workshops and presentations that give participants reasons to adopt a
constructivist view of reality. I have argued that a more liberal view
of reality will incline people to what Argyris calls 'Model II' thinking
- a style of thinking that requires inquiry into the reality images held
by others.

It seems to me that Rep. Grids could be an ideal way of 'seeing' how my
participants construe reality. At the moment, one difficulty is devising
elements that represent the area in which people's construing is to be
investigated. How will I select elements that allow me to see how they
construe 'reality'?

I plan to ask my participants, before the study begins, to generate for
me a list of 'items' they would regard as 'real' and 'not real'. In a
trial they have given me elements such as Tooth Fairy, angels,
starvation, trees, space, time, dreams, life, dreams, animals, war, the
sun, stars, perfection, noise, mess etc. etc.

Using a triads method of construct elicitation like that described by
Fay Fransella and Don Bannister (1977, p14ff) my participants worked
their way thro' sets of three elements at a time thereby enabling me to
establish emergent and implicit poles.

I have found in a (very) limited trial that some of the constructs
participants produced were "visible vs. invisible", "believable vs.
unbelievable", "proven vs. imaginary", "experienced by me" vs. "not
experienced", and the like. (Not surprising, of course, because of my
request for 'real' and 'not real' items.)

I am considering an hypothesis that people will construe around the
topic of 'reality' less and less along these positivist lines as they
progress thro' my set of workshops and presentations that give
participants 'good' reasons to construe in a more constructivist

Would anyone like to comment on this proposal for element and construct
elicitation and my tentative hypothesis? Does anyone know of studies
into the susceptibility of people's reality notions?

Rob Steventon
South Australia