Studies examining staff attitudes toward people with intellectual disability have traditionally used pre-determined categories and models or been open to researcher bias. The use of methods derived from personal construct psychology permits an objective investigation of staff views and attitudes without such limitations. Fourteen staff from an inpatient intellectual disability service were interviewed about their perceptions of clients with challenging behavior primarily using the repertory grid technique as developed from personal construct theory. Staff was found to construe their clients and their behaviors in a heterogeneous manner that was not readily reducible to a group average, and they did not make or use attributions about them in a consistent manner. Future research should incorporate work culture and the staff–client relationship. The results have implications for clinical decision making, team working, and clinical supervision.

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