Friday, September 5, 2014

Guide Notes on George Kelly: Personal Construct Psychology

Essential Points About George Kelly

(These essential points serve as summary or an overview on the Personality Theory of George Kelly. Readers are advised to read more in order to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of his theory. Wikipedia and materials available online were used as reference as well as textbooks for these essential points.)

His theory can be considered as phenomenological - studies focused on subjective experience; cognitive since it deals with mental events;  existential because of his emphasis on the future and the capacity to select one's own destiny; humanistic because it recognizes an individual's creative abilities directed at solving personal or sociological problems. For Kelly personality is adaptive and unique. In his work the influence of learning and culture was not emphasized but recognizes them as important in the growth, development and refinement of the personal construct system.

1) Constructive alternativism is the idea that, while there is only one true reality, reality is always experienced from one or another perspective, or alternative construction. There are always different ways to interpret or give meaning to any event everyone is capable of reconstruing events. Constructs provide a certain order, clarity, and prediction to a persons world.

2) Constructs are bipolar categories, the way two things are alike and different from a third, that people employ to understand the world.  A construct always implies contrast. (Ex. attractive-ugly, intelligent-stupid, kind-cruel)

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3) Fundamental postulate: A person's processes are psychologically channelized by the way in which he anticipates events.

4) There are 11 supporting corollaries for the basic postulate:  (1) construction corollary, (2) individuality corollary, (3) organizational corollary, (4) dichotomy corollary,  (5) choice corollary,  (6) range corollary,  (7) experience corollary, (8) modulation corollary, (9) fragmentation corollary, (10) commonality corollary, (11) sociality corollary

5) Transitional periods in a person's life occur when he or she encounters a situation that changes his or her naive theory (or system of construction) of the way the world is ordered. They can create anxiety, hostility, and/or guilt and can also be opportunities to change one's constructs and the way one views the world.

  • Anxiety develops when a person encounters a situation that his or her construct system does not cover, an event unlike any he or she has encountered.
  • Guilt is dislodgment from one's core constructs. 
  • Hostility is "attempting to extort confirmation of a social prediction that is already failing.

6) Personal construct psychology (PCP) is a theory of personality and cognition. Kelly derived a psychotherapy approach and also a technique called The Repertory Grid Interview that helped his patients to uncover their own "constructs" (ways of seeing the world) with minimal intervention or interpretation by the therapist.

7) Repertory Grid itself is a matrix where the rows represent constructs found, the columns represent the elements, and cells indicate with a number the position of each element within each construct. The Repertory Grid was later adapted for various uses within organizations, including decision-making and interpretation of other people's world-views.

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8) Concept of Humanity - optimistic view. On elaborative choice -  people choose alternative that offers greater opportunity, thus in making the present choices, we look ahead and pick the alternative that will increase our range of future choices.

9) Strengths

  • empirical evidence of Kelly's Personal Construct Theory relate to his approaches to assessment and therapy
  • client give the best and most information about themselves

10) Weaknesses

  • lack or limited empirical basis for identifying personal constructs
  • emphasis on logic and rationality - overlooked emotions 


Theories of Personality, by J. Feist and G. Feist, 6 ed, 2006

Personality, by D. Limpingco and G. Tria, 3 ed, 2007