Microgenesis in Making Sense of Oneself: Constructive Recycling of Personality Inventory Items


  • Rainer Diriwächter California Lutheran University
  • Jaan Valsiner Clark University
  • Christine Sauck Clark University




de-quantification, microgenesis, personality, meaning-making, NEO-PI


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. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0501113


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Author Biographies

Rainer Diriwächter, California Lutheran University

Rainer DIRIWÄCHTER is a doctoral student of psychology at Clark University. He is currently studying Ganzheitspsychologie with emphasis on the process of Aktualgenese.

Jaan Valsiner, Clark University

Jaan VALSINER (http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs/beirat/valsiner-e.htm) is the founding editor (1995) of the Sage journal, Culture & Psychology. He is currently professor and chair of Department of Psychology, Clark University, USA, where he also edits a journal in history of psychology—From Past to Future: Clark Papers in the History of Psychology. He has published many books, the most recent of which are The guided mind (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1998), Culture and human development (London: Sage, 2000) and Comparative study of human cultural development (Madrid: Fundacion Infancia y Aprendizaje, 2001). He has edited (with Kevin CONNOLLY) the Handbook of Developmental Psychology (London: Sage, 2003).

Christine Sauck, Clark University

Christine Cutrim SAUCK is a doctoral student in Clark University's clinical psychology program. Both her research and clinical interests include parent-child relationships, with a particular focus on the development of children and parents within their family systems.




How to Cite

Diriwächter, R., Valsiner, J., & Sauck, C. (2005). Microgenesis in Making Sense of Oneself: Constructive Recycling of Personality Inventory Items. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-6.1.520

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