Personal construct theory
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Personal construct theory or personal construct psychology (PCP) is a theory of personality and cognition developed by the American psychologist George Kelly in the 1950s. From the theory, Kelly derived a psychotherapy approach and also a technique called the repertory grid interview that helped his patients to analyze their own constructs (schemas or ways of seeing the world) with minimal intervention or interpretation by the therapist. The repertory grid was later adapted for various uses within organizations, including decision-making and interpretation of other people's world-views.
Kelly explicitly stated that each individual's task in understanding their personal psychology is to put in order the facts of his or her own experience. Then the individual, like the scientist, is to test the accuracy of that constructed knowledge by performing those actions the constructs suggest. If the results of their actions are in line with what the knowledge predicted, then they have done a good job of finding the order in their personal experience. If not, then they can modify the construct: their interpretations or their predictions or both. This method of discovering and correcting constructs is simply the scientific method used by all modern sciences to discover the truths about the universe we live in.
Kelly proposed that every construct is bipolar, specifying how two things are similar to each other (lying on the same pole) and different from a third thing, and they can be expanded with new ideas. More recent researchers have suggested that constructs need not be bipolar.
A main tenet of PCP theory is that a person's unique psychological processes are channeled by the way s/he anticipates events. Kelly believed that anticipation and prediction are the main drivers of our mind. "Every man is, in his own particular way, a scientist," said Kelly, in that he is always building up and refining theories and models about how the world works so that he can anticipate events. We start on this at birth (for example, a child discovers, "if I cry, mother will come") and continue refining our theories as we grow up. We build theories—often stereotypes—about other people and also try to control them or impose on others our own theories so that we are better able to predict their actions.
All these theories are built up from a system of constructs. A construct has two extreme points, such as "happy–sad" and we tend to place people at either extreme or at some point in between. Our mind, said Kelly, is filled up with these constructs, at a low level of awareness. Kelly did not use the concept unconscious; instead, he believed that some constructs are preverbal. A given person or set of persons or any event or circumstance can be characterized fairly precisely by the set of constructs we apply to it and the position of the thing within the range of each construct. So Fred for instance may be just half between happy and sad (one construct) and definitively clever rather than stupid (another construct). The baby above may have a preverbal construct "Comes... doesn't come when I cry".
Constructs are applied to anything we put our attention to, including ourselves, and also strongly influence what we fix our attention on. We construe reality constructing constructs. Hence, determining a person's system of constructs would go a long way towards understanding him, especially the person's essential constructs that represent very strong and unchangeable beliefs; and also the constructs a person applies to him/herself.
Kelly believed in a non-invasive approach to psychotherapy. Rather than having the therapist interpret the person's psyche, which would amount to imposing the doctor's constructs on the patient, the therapist should just act as a facilitator of the patient finding his or her own constructs. The patient's behavior is then mainly explained as ways to selectively observe the world, act upon it and update the construct system in such a way as to increase predictability. To help the patient find his or her constructs, Kelly developed the repertory grid interview technique.
The repertory gridEdit
To build a repertory grid (a sort of matrix) for a patient, Kelly would first ask the patient to select about seven elements whose nature might depend on whatever the patient or therapist are trying to discover. For instance, "Two specific friends, two work-mates, two people you dislike, your mother and yourself", or something of that sort. Then, three of the elements would be selected at random, and then the therapist would ask:"In relation to… (whatever is of interest), in which way are two of these people alike but different from the third"? The answer is sure to indicate one of the extreme points of one of the patient's constructs. He might say for instance that Fred and Sarah are very communicative whereas John isn't. Further questioning would reveal the other end of the construct (say, introvert) and the positions of the three characters between extremes. Repeating the procedure with different sets of three elements ends up revealing several constructs the patient might not have been fully aware of.
The 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. There is software available to produce several reports and graphs from these grids.
In the book Personal Construct Methodology, researchers Brian R. Gaines and Mildred L.G. Shaw noted that they "have also found concept mapping and semantic network tools to be complementary to repertory grid tools and generally use both in most studies" but that they "see less use of network representations in PCP studies than is appropriate". They encouraged practitioners to use semantic network techniques in addition to the repertory grid.
PCP has always been a minority interest among psychologists. During the last 30 years, it has gradually gained adherents in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Italy and Spain. While its chief fields of application remain clinical and educational psychology, there is an increasing interest in its applications to organizational development, employee training and development, job analysis, job description and evaluation. The repertory grid is often used in the qualitative phase of market research, to identify the ways in which consumers construe products and services.
- For example: Kelly 1991 (first published 1955); Kelly & Maher 1969; Bannister 1970; Bannister & Fransella 1986 (first published 1971)
- For example: Fransella, Bell & Bannister 2004 (first published 1977); Jankowicz 2004; Caputi et al. 2011
- For example: Stewart, Stewart & Fonda 1981; Gaines & Shaw 1993; Bradshaw et al. 1993; Simpson, Large & O'Brien 2004; Carrillat et al. 2009
- For example: Riemann 1990; Yorke 2001; Kuška et al. 2016
- Gaines & Shaw, "Computer-aided constructivism", in Caputi et al. 2011, pp. 183–222
- On constructivist multimethodology see also, for example: Bradshaw et al. 1993
- Kuška, Martin; Trnka, Radek; Kuběna, Aleš A.; Růžička, Jiří (June 2016). "Free associations mirroring self- and world-related concepts: implications for personal construct theory, psycholinguistics and philosophical psychology". Frontiers in Psychology. 7: 981. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00981. PMC 4928535. PMID 27445940.
- Winter, David A.; Reed, Nick, eds. (2016). The Wiley handbook of personal construct psychology. Chichester, UK; Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons. doi:10.1002/9781118508275. ISBN 9781118508312. OCLC 913829512.
- Salla, Marta; Feixas, Guillem; Ballén, Cristina; Muñoz, Dámaris; Compañ, Victoria (January 2015). "The couple's grid: a tool for assessing interpersonal construction in couples". Journal of Constructivist Psychology. 28 (1): 53–66. doi:10.1080/10720537.2013.859110.
- Winter, David A.; Procter, Harry (2014). "Formulation in personal and relational construct psychology: seeing the world through clients' eyes". In Johnstone, Lucy; Dallos, Rudi. Formulation in psychology and psychotherapy: making sense of people's problems (2nd ed.). London; New York: Routledge. pp. 145–172. ISBN 9780415682305. OCLC 894506578.
- Caputi, Peter; Viney, Linda L.; Walker, Beverly M.; Crittenden, Nadia, eds. (2011). Personal construct methodology. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons. doi:10.1002/9781119953616. ISBN 9780470770870. OCLC 730906380.
- Carrillat, François A.; Riggle, Robert J.; Locander, William B.; Gebhardt, Gary F.; Lee, James M. (2009). "Cognitive segmentation: modeling the structure and content of customers' thoughts". Psychology and Marketing. 26 (6): 479–506. doi:10.1002/mar.20284.
- Neimeyer, Robert A. (2009). Constructivist psychotherapy: distinctive features. The CBT distinctive features series. Hove, East Sussex; New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415442336. OCLC 237402656.
- Gabalda, Isabel Caro; Neimeyer, Robert A.; Newman, Cory F. (December 2009). "Theory and practice in the cognitive psychotherapies: convergence and divergence". Journal of Constructivist Psychology. 23 (1): 65–83. doi:10.1080/10720530903400996.
- Leitner, Larry M.; Thomas, Jill C., eds. (2009). Personal constructivism: theory and applications. New York: Pace University Press. ISBN 978-0944473948. OCLC 434613248.
- Winter, David A. (September 2008). "Cognitive behaviour therapy: from rationalism to constructivism?". European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling. 10 (3): 221–229. doi:10.1080/13642530802337959.
- Stein, Miriam (June 2007). "Nonverbal techniques in personal construct psychotherapy". Journal of Constructivist Psychology. 20 (2): 103–124. doi:10.1080/10720530601074689.
- Caputi, Peter; Foster, Heather; Viney, Linda L., eds. (2006). Personal construct psychology: new ideas. Chichester, UK; Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. doi:10.1002/9780470713044. ISBN 978-0470019436. OCLC 694910981.
- Milton, Nick R.; Clarke, David; Shadbolt, Nigel (December 2006). "Knowledge engineering and psychology: towards a closer relationship" (PDF). International Journal of Human–Computer Studies. 64 (12): 1214–1229. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2006.08.001.
- Fransella, Fay, ed. (2005). The essential practitioner's handbook of personal construct psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0470013236. OCLC 694910981. This is a concise (abridged) paperback version of Fransella (2003).
- Simpson, Barbara; Large, Bob; O'Brien, Matthew (January 2004). "Bridging difference through dialogue: a constructivist perspective". Journal of Constructivist Psychology. 17 (1): 45–59. doi:10.1080/10720530490250697.
- Jankowicz, Devi (2004). The easy guide to repertory grids. Chichester, UK; Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0470854044. OCLC 51984819.
- Winter, David A. (2003). "The constructivist paradigm". In Woolfe, Ray; Dryden, Windy; Strawbridge, Sheelagh. Handbook of counselling psychology (2nd ed.). London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. pp. 241–260. ISBN 978-0761972075. OCLC 52594976.
- Fransella, Fay, ed. (2003). International handbook of personal construct psychology. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. doi:10.1002/9780470013373 (inactive 2019-02-19). ISBN 978-0470847275. OCLC 51178396.
- Raskin, Jonathan D.; Bridges, Sara K., eds. (2002). Studies in meaning: exploring constructivist psychology. Studies in meaning. New York: Pace University Press. ISBN 978-0944473573. OCLC 48390934.
- Neimeyer, Greg J.; Neimeyer, Robert A., eds. (2002). Advances in personal construct psychology: new directions and perspectives. Wesport, CT: Praeger Publishing. ISBN 978-0275972943. OCLC 50434439.
- Yorke, Mantz (April 2001). "Bipolarity... or not?: some conceptual problems relating to bipolar rating scales". British Educational Research Journal. 27 (2): 171–186. doi:10.1080/01411920120037126. JSTOR 1501708.
- Neimeyer, Robert A.; Mahoney, Michael J., eds. (1995). Constructivism in psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 978-1557982797. OCLC 31518985.
- Bradshaw, Jeffrey M.; Ford, Kenneth M.; Adams-Webber, Jack R.; Boose, John H. (1993). "Beyond the repertory grid: new approaches to constructivist knowledge acquisition tool development". In Ford, Kenneth M.; Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Knowledge acquisition as modeling. New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 287–333. ISBN 978-0471593683. OCLC 26851198.
- Epting, Franz R.; Probert, James S.; Pittman, Stephen D. (January 1993). "Alternative strategies for construct elicitation: experimenting with experience". International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology. 6 (1): 79–98. doi:10.1080/08936039308404333.
- Gaines, Brian R.; Shaw, Mildred L. G. (March 1993). "Knowledge acquisition tools based on personal construct psychology". The Knowledge Engineering Review. 8 (1): 49–85. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.33.2205. doi:10.1017/S0269888900000060.
- Winter, David A. (1992). Personal construct psychology in clinical practice: theory, research, and applications. London; New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415005272. OCLC 23082076.
- Fransella, Fay; Dalton, Peggy (2000) . Personal construct counselling in action (2nd ed.). London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-0761966142. OCLC 44502510.
- Riemann, Rainer (April 1990). "The bipolarity of personal constructs". International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology. 3 (2): 149–165. doi:10.1080/10720539008412806.
- Soldz, Stephen (October 1988). "Constructivist tendencies in recent psychoanalysis". International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology. 1 (4): 329–347. doi:10.1080/10720538808412783.
- Mahoney, Michael J.; Lyddon, William J. (April 1988). "Recent developments in cognitive approaches to counseling and psychotherapy". The Counseling Psychologist. 16 (2): 190–234. doi:10.1177/0011000088162001.
- Fransella, Fay; Thomas, Laurie F., eds. (1988). Experimenting with personal construct psychology. London; New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0710210623. OCLC 15855887.
- Epting, Franz R.; Landfield, Alvin W., eds. (1985). Anticipating personal construct psychology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0803228627. OCLC 11290933.
- Bannister, Donald, ed. (1985). Issues and approaches in personal construct theory. London; Orlando, FL: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0120779802. OCLC 10996166.
- Epting, Franz R.; Neimeyer, Robert A., eds. (1984). Personal meanings of death: applications of personal construct theory to clinical practice. Series in death education, aging, and health care. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Pub. Corp. ISBN 978-0891163633. OCLC 9557799.
- Reason, Peter; Rowan, John, eds. (1981). Human inquiry: a sourcebook of new paradigm research. Chichester, UK; New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0471279358. OCLC 7206012.
- Stewart, Valerie; Stewart, Andrew; Fonda, Nickie (1981). Business applications of repertory grid. London; New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0070845497. OCLC 8061567.
- Gaines, Brian R.; Shaw, Mildred L. G. (July 1980). "New directions in the analysis and interactive elicitation of personal construct systems". International Journal of Man–Machine Studies. 13 (1): 81–116. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.414.3762. doi:10.1016/S0020-7373(80)80038-1.
- Fransella, Fay, ed. (1978). Personal construct psychology, 1977. Second International Congress on Personal Construct Theory. London; New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0122654602. OCLC 5674889.
- Bannister, Donald, ed. (1977). New perspectives in personal construct theory. London; New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0120779406. OCLC 10274182.
- Fransella, Fay; Bell, Richard; Bannister, Donald (2004) . A manual for repertory grid technique (2nd ed.). Chichester, UK; Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0470854907. OCLC 52587457.
- Bannister, Donald; Fransella, Fay (1986) . Inquiring man: the psychology of personal constructs (3rd ed.). London; Dover, NH: Croom Helm. ISBN 978-0709939504. OCLC 12583609.
- Bannister, Donald, ed. (1970). Perspectives in personal construct theory. London; New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0120779604. OCLC 131128.
- Kelly, George; Maher, Brendan A. (1969). Clinical psychology and personality: the selected papers of George Kelly. New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0471563563. OCLC 6272.
- Kelly, George (1991) . The psychology of personal constructs. London; New York: Routledge in association with the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology. ISBN 978-0415037990. OCLC 21760190. Originally published as: Kelly, George (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. OCLC 217761.