Kelly Grid

The Kelly Grid is a tool for understanding how you think of people. Down the left hand side, write names of people. Pick any three, and think of an attribute which distinguishes one from the other two. Write this attribute at the top of the first column. Pick another group of three, and find an attribute for the second column. Repeat, until you have around six attributes. Then fill in the table, marking each person according to whether they posess this attribute.

Some possible people are
yourself, your mother, your father, your wife, a brother or sister, a brother or sister-in-law, an ex-girlfriend, a best friend, a distant friend, a neighbour, a politican, a film star
Also include some ideals of people
a threatening person, a successful person, a happy person, an ethical person, a rejecting person
Some comparisons which psychologists have found useful are
youpartnerbest friend
youbest friendex-friend
partnerex-partnerbest friend
rejecting personthreatening personbest friend
successful personhappy personethical person

The chart below plots the people you chose, and draws a line for each attribute. You will probably see that the attributes cluster in groups. This reveals patterns in your thinking—constellations of ideas which you may not be consciously aware of. You will probably see that the people cluster in groups too, sometimes in surprising ways.

To interpret the figure, choose an attribute and look at its line. Rotate your head so the line is horizontal. Each person lies above or below a particular coordinate along the line, and that coordinate indicates how strongly that person possesses the attribute—the extremes of the line indicate Yes and No answers for that attribute. (For some attributes the Yes–No line is very small. This means that the attribute is not well represented the screen: to see it properly you would need three dimensions.)


I came across this on BBC Radio 4, in the program All In the Mind. You can listen to the piece online. The mathematical analysis is based on principal component analysis. I have plotted a predictive biplot, as described in Biplots by Gower & Hand (1995). Further references to the Kelly Grid.

I've tested the code on 2017-era browsers: Google Chrome 63.0.3239.132 and on Microsoft Edge 41.16299.15.0.