Getting into it in the wrong way: interpretative phenomenological analysis and the hermeneutic circle

Daniel Gyollai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
436 Downloads (Pure)


This article critically analyses the hermeneutic commitment of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). In the theoretical framework of IPA, the role of preconceptions and prejudices is consistently downplayed; priority is given to the participant's own words. Paley has argued that IPA’s interpretative phase is always and necessarily determined by the researcher's fore‐conceptions, as opposed to the participant's narrative. I demonstrate that IPA’s failure to recognize the importance of an external frame of reference in interpretation may arise from the misunderstanding of the method's hermeneutic underpinnings. I essentially argue that bracketing the researcher's fore‐conceptions during the initial phases of IPA is merely an illusion. While it is beyond the scope of this article to dispute whether IPA is genuinely phenomenological, my claim ultimately poses a challenge to IPA’s phenomenological commitment on its own terms. The article concludes with a proposal to substantially improve IPA’s consistency with hermeneutic tradition and its grounding in phenomenological philosophy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12294
JournalNursing Philosophy
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020


  • bracketing
  • fusion of horizons
  • Gadamer
  • Heidegger
  • hermeneutic circle
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis


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