Personal constructs of intellectually disabled people.
The main focus of this thesis is to investigate the mental
worlds of intellectually disabled people. It is intended to
provide information about how members of this population
construe their environments and how recent changes in the
philosophy of care have affected their construct systems.
Personal construct theory is used as the model that
underpins the studies in the thesis and a modified version
of repertory grid technique is developed and used to explore
physical and social aspects of each subject's environment.
After a pilot study was conducted to establish the viability
of using modified rep grid techniques with this population,
a longitudinal study over a four year period investigated
the social constructs of 15 intellectually disabled residents.
Eight were still in an institution at the end of the
study and seven had moved into the community during that
period. A comparison group of eight staff were sampled at
the beginning of the longitudinal study.
Information is made available concerning the size and complexity
of each subject's construct system. It was found
that the size and content of the construct systems of
intellectually disabled people is limited relative to the
comparison group and does not change significantly over four
years. construct systems were analysed using two computerbased
programs that solved the patterns of interrelationships
and a graphic presentation of the network of
significant correlations between constructs was completed.
It was found that the graphic presentation was adequate for the intellectually disabled respondents but not for the comparison
No difference was found between the community-based group of
intellectually disabled people and those still resident in
the hospital after four years.
A further study with 17 intellectually disabled people,
parents and non-parents, found no difference in their construct
systems of children.
These results are discussed in the context of the present
philosophy and practice of normalisation and social role