chapter  18
27 Pages

Domain analysis

The system theory underlying this chapter is our social adaptation of Personal Construct Psychology, a well-known theory in Psychology and the Cognitive Sciences developed in the 1950s by George Kelly. The key assumption is that people understand a domain by dividing it into parts and creating a description of the whole based on comparisons (or degrees of similarity and difference) between the parts. For example, to know the meaning of ‘tasty food’ requires not only a sense of what all ‘tasty foods’ have in common but also words and ideas to describe the opposite. In Personal Construct Psychology, domain parts are called elements and the contrasting characteristics are called constructs. The social adaptation of construct analysis presented below builds on this perspective by showing how stakeholder groups create and organize elements and their contrasting characteristics for a domain or topic area. The method uncovers ways people make sense of reality in a particular context and helps create opportunities for problem solving and learning.