Microgenesis in Making Sense of Oneself: Constructive Recycling of Personality Inventory Items
Qualitative orientation in the social sciences is not a new trend, but a realistic restoration of method construction that fits the quality of the phenomena under study with the data it derives. Many existing methods are available for intellectual recycling—de-quantification and re-use of the original items in new functions. We outline a productive use of classical standardized methods of personality research through their systematic de-quantification. The result is a new use of its raw items as meaning-making triggers in the study of the qualitative process of self-reflection. We demonstrate how a qualitative use of selected NEO-PI-R items makes it possible to investigate the specific ways in which individuals conceptualize their specific characteristics, attempting to arrive at a closure about their fit with one's self as a whole. The processes of meaning-making involved in such closure are holistic in nature. The developmental traditions of Ganzheitspsychologie—the use of techniques of microgenesis (Aktualgenese)—are outlined as returning to the focus of interest of qualitative research practices.
de-quantification; microgenesis; personality; meaning-making; NEO-PI