Repertory Grid Technique (RGT)

Method suitability

Study type

XField studies
XLab studies
Online studies

Development phase

XEarly prototypes
XFunctional prototypes
XProducts on market

Studied period of experience

XBefore usage
XAn episode
XLong-term UX

Evaluator / Info provider

XUX experts
XOne user at a time
Groups of users
Pairs of users




XWeb services
XPC software
XMobile software
XHardware designs


XTrained researcher
XSpecial equipment


RGT is a technique for eliciting and evaluating people's subjective experiences of interacting with technology, through the individual way they construe the meanings of members of the set of artifacts under investigations. It thus attempts to capture how users experience things, what the experience means for them, and covers both emotionally- based constructs (warm-cold) and more “rational” ones (professional-popular). Kelly suggested the Repertory Grid Technique (RGT) as a methodological extension of his Personal Construct Theory (Kelly, 1955). Kelly argued that we make sense of our world through our own ‘construing' of it. That is, we tend to model what we find in the world according to a number of personal constructs, which are bipolar in nature. According to Kelly, a ‘construct' is a single dimension of meaning for a person allowing two phenomena to be seen as similar and thereby as different from a third (Bannister & Fransella, 1985).


First, an individual participating in an elicitation session produces his or her own constructs, i.e. what bipolar dimensions of meaning the person see as the most important ones for talking about the elements (the investigated phenomena). The construct elicitation process is typically eased by the use of triads, where the subject becomes exposed to sets of three elements at a time and is asked to describe and put a label on what he or she sees as separating one of the elements in the group from the other two. Second, after having provided their own individual, qualitative constructs, the participant is asked to rate the degree to which each element in the study relates to each bipolar construct according to some scale (typically a binary or Likert-type scale). Constructs and elements are the two building blocks of each individual's own repertory grid table; which are quantitatively related to each other by use of some rating system.


The Repertory Grid Technique (RGT) is an open and dynamic technique for eliciting people's experiences and meanings in relation to technological artifacts, while it at the same time providing for modern methods of statistical analysis. The RGT is best understood as a technique on the border between qualitative and quantitative research methods.


One disadvantage of RGT is that it requires a substantial amount of effort to be
invested both by the experimenter/designer and by the participants at the time of
construct elicitation, as compared to many quantitative methods. On the other
hand, RGT is in some ways more efficient and less time-consuming than most fully
open approaches, e.g. unstructured interviews and explorative ethnography.

References describing the method

Bannister, D. & Fransella, F. (1985). Inquiring man. 3rd Edition. Routledge, London, UK.
Berg, J. (2002). Systematic Evaluation of Perceived Spatial Quality in Surround Sound Systems. Lulea University of Technology, Sweden: 2002:17 ISSN: 1402- 1544.
Fallman, D and Waterworth, J A (2005) Dealing with User Experience and Affective Evaluation in HCI Design: A Repertory Grid Approach, Workshop Paper, CHI 2005,
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 2-7, Portland, Oregon
Gaines, B.R. & Shaw, M.L.G. (1997). Knowledge acquisition, modeling and inference through world wide web. Human Computer Studies, 46, 729—759.
Hassenzahl, M. & Wessler, R. (2000). Capturing design space from a user perspective: the repertory grid technique revisited. International Journal of Human—Computer Interaction, 12(3&4), 2000, 441—459.
Kelly, G. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. Vol 1 & 2. Routledge, London, UK.

References about quality of the method

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