Free Coding: A New Reversal Theory Methodology

Author: Michael Apter and Gareth Lewis

Abstract: This paper introduces, illustrates, and discusses the possibility of a new way of organizing data in reversal theory research. In reversal theory, questionnaire items are often situations taken to represent motivational states, e.g. working on taxes may be supposed a priori to occur in the telic state and used to indicate the presence of this state. An alternative more open approach would be to present situations to the respondent and ask them to indicate which motivational state(s) they might experience in those situations. This would involve what we might call free coding. Instead of inferring dominance profiles (say) from frequency judgements of different states, each state prevalence of a respondent would be judged from the number of different situations seen by that respondent to relate to each motivational state. Among other things, this allows us to measure some new kinds of personality variables: we have called these focus, generativity, and flexibility. Situations as well as people can also have distinct characteristics or motivational profiles. This is a discussion paper that introduces this new approach and explores it with a preliminary empirical demonstration in the form of a State Pattern Investigation (SPIN).

Link to Article2018-v7-03-Apter-et-al.pdf

DOI: 10.12689/jmep.2018.703