Re: +ve and -ve values of constructs

MS Offer (
Fri, 24 Sep 1999 15:05:36 +0100

Regarding Robb's question about vocational constructs:

I've been using PCT and grids in careers guidance since about 1978. I see
no reason why one pole of a construct should necessarily be a "preferred
pole" although admittedly clients usually do offer such negative/positive
constructs in practice. The others may be interesting for a different
reason - where, for example, does the client place their "ideal job" on
that construct - in the middle, or to one side or the other? They may be
saying they want a mixture - e.g. a job which involves them in indoor and
outdoor work - variety
or they may be saying that the choice is relatively unimportant to them or
there may be other reasons - perhaps it is important but they cannot decide
where to place themselves in relation to it, which may point to a genuiine
conflict in decision making, or it may be someone else's construct that
they feel they need to take into account but don't personally relate to, or
it may be that the construct is differently applied in different contexts
etc etc. Whether this is a "problem" or not will depend on your and their
reasons for eliciting and using the construct, not the fact of there being
no preferred pole, surely?

It's usually possible if the construct is a real issue for either of you,
ot explore it using laddering (what is the advantage or disadvantage of the
respective poles? Is there a preference at the superordinate level, is the
construct subsumed under superordinates which, when elicited explain some
of the meaning of it within the client's construct system? )

It certainly doesn't invalidate the philosophy of the grid for me, anyway -
it only reinforces how subtle and complex construct systems are and how
much meaning you can get out of grids or even partially elicited grids in a
counselling situation as opposed to a quantitative research situation.
"Grids" are only a first step - a means of generating useful hypotheses in
career counselling, not a means of defining the answers?

Best wishes


At 16:06 23/09/99 -0600, you wrote:
>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
Marcus Offer
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