What is it?
Jonathan A Smith
School of Psychology
Birkbeck University of London
What is it?
How do you do it?
What does it look like?
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)
Focus on lived experience of participant
Try to make sense of the meanings of events/ experiences/ states to participants themselves
Naturalistic (qualitative methodology)
Idiographic not nomothetic
‘Going back to the things themselves’ (Edmund Husserl)
Reflexive turn inwards
away from the objects in the world and
towards our perception of those objects
however intentionality links perceiver with perceived
Detailed analysis of elements of the reflected personal experience- the subjective experience of the social world. IPA does this (or at least attempts to)
Establish essential features/general structure of that experience across people. Giorgi’s empirical phenomenology tries to do this
Put to one side the content of the subjective process in order to attend to pure consciousness itself.
Hermeneutics of identity/empathy
Hermeneutics of questioning/being critical
Understanding combines these
Researcher is trying to make sense of the participant trying to make sense of….
The hermeneutic circle
Part and whole
Heidegger and Gadamer on how fore-understanding important in interpretation but sometimes may only be discovered in confrontation with new Methodology of IPA
Purposive homogeneous sampling
Interview schedule used flexibly- contrast to structured interview Verbatim transcript
Systematic search for themes in first case
Forge connections between themes,
Then move across case
Usual aim: establishment of superordinate themes
However IPA is approach not ‘methodolatory’
Method can be adapted
Try capture rich account-lived experience for individual
Narrative account presents elicited themes supported by verbatim extracts from participants GENETIC TEST FOR HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE:
THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS
Susan Michie (UCL)
Oliver Quarrel (University of Sheffield)
Huntington's Disease (HD)
progressive, neuro-degenerative disorder, usually of adult onset
serious motor disability, affective disturbance, and cognitive impairment
Predictive testing since 1986
before testing, candidate knows risk status is 50%
testing almost definitive
time of onset is unclear
positive result will also change the risk status of their children from 25% to 50%
how does an individual make such a decision and what are the psychological consequences of it?
1. Some studies on factors influencing the decision of whether to test or not. Tibben et al. (1993b), Codori et al. (1994)
Typical factors pro testing:
assistance with reproductive decisions
planning for the future
searching for symptoms
being unable to live with the knowledge
2. most work is on psychological effects of knowing the test result. (Tibben et al. 1993a, Bloch et al. 1992)
positive test result can cause psychological distress but usually not major psychiatric problems
concerned with how does individual make decision?
Semi-structured interview, early in counsel protocol:
HD, the test, decision-making
taped and transcribed verbatim
analysed with IPA
for results see
Smith JA, Michie S, Stephenson M. Quarrell O, (2002) Risk perception & decision-making processes in candidates for the genetic test for Huntington’s Disease: an interpretative phenomenological analysis Journal...