Exploring lived experience

Katie Reid, Paul Flowers and Michael Larkin give an introduction to interpretative phenomenological analysis.
UNDERSTANDING experience is the very bread and butter of psychology, and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA: Smith, 1996) offers psychologists the opportunity to learn from the insights of the experts – research participants themselves. What is it like to experience auditory hallucinations, or chronic pain, for example? How can we better understand the decisions that people make, about issues as diverse as safe-sex practices, genetic testing, drug use or participation in dangerous sports? In this article we describe the recent development of IPA and show how it can help answer such questions.

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