+ve and -ve values of constructs

Robert Hadden Mole (rhmole@ucalgary.ca)
Thu, 23 Sep 1999 16:06:48 -0600 (MDT)

Dear Group--

While using some vocational constructs with a number of people I
encountered a problem. In this situation I was instructing participants
to rate one pole negative, and the other positive. So for example, the
construct "low pay -v- high pay", found participants construing high pay
as positive, and low pay as negative. This is done, of course, so that
when using Likert ratings (say seven point) the negative pole would start
at a rating of (-3) and the positive pole would ceiling at (+3). Most of
the time this was straightfoward.
Here is my problem. Some participants ended up nominating
constructs for which they insisted both poles be positive. For example
the construct "works indoors -v- works outdoors" was seen by one fellow as
embodying two desirable states of affairs. He liked the outdoors, and he
also worked well indoors. To him, the two poles were opposite in meaning,
but equal in value.
For the sake of the ratings, I encouraged him to pick one over the
other. He was very resistant, saying "I can pick one over the other, but
it will NOT represent how I really feel about the elements I rate with
that construct." I think this measure runs counter to the whole
philosophy behind the grid, which is to elicit as faithful as possible a
representation of the individual's construct system.
This is not an isolated case in my recent experience, but I have
not seen anything about it in the literature. Has anyone encountered this
one before?

-- Robb