Giving voice and making sense in interpretative phenomenological analysis

Michael Larkin*, Simon Watts, Elizabeth Clifton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this paper, we discuss two complementary commitments of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA): the phenomenological requirement to understand and 'give voice' to the concerns of participants; and the interpretative requirement to contextualize and 'make sense' of these claims and concerns from a psychological perspective. The methodological and conceptual bases for the relationship between these phenomenological and interpretative aspects of IPA appear to be underdeveloped in the literature. We, therefore, offer some thoughts on the basis of this relationship, and on its context within qualitative psychology. We discuss the epistemological range of IPA's interpretative focus, and its relationship to the more descriptive features of phenomenological analysis. In order to situate our conclusions within a contextualist position, we draw upon concepts from Heideggerian phenomenology. The argument is illustrated by excerpts from our own research on relationship break-up. We conclude by encouraging IPA researchers to embrace the interpretative opportunities that are offered by this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-120
Number of pages19
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Heidegger
  • Hermeneutic
  • IPA
  • Methodology
  • Phenomenology


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