Personal Construct Methodology

Personal Construct Methodology

Personal Construct Methodology

Personal Construct Methodology

Excerpt

In 1955, George Kelly published two volumes titled The Psychology of Personal Constructs that would challenge theorists at that time. The work was innovative, challenging and liberating at a theoretical level. Kelly saw people as adventurers who are capable of experimenting with how they make sense of their lives (Walker & Winter, 2007). Within this framework people are not “locked into” one particular way of seeing the world. By realizing we have the freedom to experiment, we have the ability to explore alternative interpretations of events, people or situations in our world, and thereby increase our ability to anticipate those events, and how people might behave or react in certain situations.

Central to this radical and innovative theoretical position is the concept of construing. Kelly’s additional contribution to the psychological literature was the development to methods for assessing construing. Kelly held the view that if you want to know something about someone then you should simply ask them – they may tell you! These methods are usually conversational, but structured in nature (Walker & Winter, 2007). Participants become active co-investigators, along with the administrator of the method, in an exploration of how participants experience, understand and interpret reality.

The most well known and widely used of Kelly’s methods is the repertory grid. The repertory grid is used to explore the relationships between a series of elements (things we try to make sense of such as “a close friend”) and a set of constructs or dimensions that are used to make sense of elements. Grid-based techniques are not limited to only exploring the construct-element relationship. For instance, dependency grids are used to sort what resources a person might use in a variety of situations (Walker & Winter, 2007). Personal Construct Psychology also offers users a family of non-grid-based methods. Examples of non-grid-based methods includes Hinkle’s (1955) laddering technique and Kelly’s (1955/1991) self-characterization technique.

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