Personal Construct Psychology

Understanding How Your Inner Map Of Reality Is Created

Here's the "software" reason why you think the way you do



What Is Personal Construct Psychology

Personal construct psychology, developed by George Kelly and first published in 1955, is based on Kelly’s theory of personality.

At root, Kelly's theory is built on the concept of "Man as Scientist" – that is, we each seek to make sense of the world as we experience it by building and testing hypothesis about how the world works.

Expressed in more modern language, we all create our own inner map of reality (or construct) based on the filters of our own ethnic, national, social and religious backgrounds, and we interpret and experience life from the perspective of that map.

Thus, according to Kelly our constructs (or inner map of reality) serves the dual purpose of representing our view of life and providing indicators or how we are like to interpret life as we continue to experience it.

Personal construct psychology also considers whether and how we might modify our constructs when faced with contradictory information – in other words establishing our ‘core constructs’ (core beliefs) that are more likely to be “non-negotiable”.













Personal Construct Psychology - Summary Of Main Points

The main points of personal construct psychology can be summarised as follows:

Our construct systems make our world more predictable

We use our construct systems to make the world easier to find our way around. They reflect our constant efforts to make sense of our world, hence Kelly’s “man as a scientist” analogy. Like the scientist, we observe, we draw conclusions about patterns of cause and effect, and we behave according to those conclusions.


Our construct systems can grow and change

Our constructs are confirmed or challenged every moment we are conscious. Whether we adapt or immunise depends on a number of things: how open we are to new information, how much it matters to us to maintain our core belief.


Our construct systems influence our expectations and perceptions

As our constructs reflect our past experience, they also influence our expectations and behaviour.


Some constructs, and some aspects of our construct systems, are more important than others

Those constructs that represent our core values and concern our key relationships - are complex, quite firmly fixed, wide-ranging, and difficult to change; others, about things which don't matter so much, or about which we haven't much experience, are simpler, narrower, and thus carry less personal commitment.


Your construct system is your truth as you understand and experience it - nobody else's

Our constructs represent the truth as we understand it. Construct systems are not objective measures of “truth”. When we meet someone whose construct system is different from our own - especially if we don't like it, or think it's “wrong” – we might try confronting them with opposing perspectives and evidence, and then we get frustrated when we see them immunising their constructs instead of adapting them. (This is the basic premise of Kegan and Lahey’s work in “Immunity to Change”).


Construct systems are not always internally consistent

We can and do live with a degree of internal inconsistency within our construct systems - but if the distortions of judgement become too costly or inappropriate we are likely to suffer some form of personal distress.


The extent to which one person can understand another's construct system is a measure of that person's empathy

We do not have to have the same construct system as another person in order to understand them; but we do need to be able to infer the other person's constructs (or as someone once said "walk a mile in his/her shoes").


Interpreting meaning in a construct via Kelly's Repertory Grid

George Kelly developed a technique known as “The Repertory Grid” for identifying the ways that a person construes (interprets/ gives meaning to) his or her experience and for providing information from which inferences about that persons’ personality can be made.

See also: The George Kelly Society - Repertory Grid Methods


Further resources

Books, journals and links etc:

The George Kelly Society - Resources





Return to: Managing Personal Change






Chinese (Traditional)EnglishFrenchGermanItalianRussianSpanishVietnamese


Custom Site Search


The Balanced Toolkit



The Balanced Life



3 Keys Solutions


Get new posts by email:

LATEST ARTICLES

  1. How To Stay Connected To Your True Source Of Power

    "Your ego's desire to be in control, your ego usurping the role of your higher self, disconnects you from your true source of power." A stone of help is a constant reminder to stay connected to your…

    Read More

  2. Dying To Self - To Gain All Give All

    "If You Want To Be Given Everything - Give Everything Up". “Tao Te Ching” Your ego is essential and does a wonderful job of running things for you and marshalling your mental and emotional resources t…

    Read More

  3. My Experience Of Mindfulness In Situations Of Imposed Change

    I found that the biggest key to all this is to behave and respond in ways that may seem completely alien to you by cultivating a very deep acceptance of what is. Many years ago my fortunes had change…

    Read More

  4. The Balanced Life

    The Key To Keeping Your Balance Is Knowing When You Lost It. The balanced life is one where you recognise the full spectrum of possible responses and have develop sufficient experience, insight and se…

    Read More

  5. Self Motivation - How To Motivate Yourself In Tough Times

    Our focus here is going to be on the heavy duty / big picture level motivation that you need to get you through tough times often involving imposed change that have large and perhaps dramatic impacts…

    Read More

  6. Your Higher Self - Your Hardwired Portal To The Universe

    Think of your conscious mind as a ship floating on the ocean of your subconscious mind, and above is the sky of your higher consciousness. When things are tough and you are starting to think that no…

    Read More

  7. How Can I Change My Mind?

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. Your mind is either working for you or, more typically, working against you. There is a part of your mind that is very happy with h…

    Read More

  8. Managing Personal Change Is Hard - Here's How You CAN Make It Work

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. You can waste years of your life (as I have done) and spend a fortune in various forms of introspection, analysis and therapy diggi…

    Read More

  9. Change Comes From Within

    "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." For much of my life I didn't understand that change comes from within, I used to believe that change wa…

    Read More

  10. How Things Are - The Inbuilt Design Flaw

    This is the nature of things. This is how things are. Nobody has the perfect life. We all struggle and strive to attain health, wealth and personal happiness. Yet these three big areas: our health, o…

    Read More




Support This Site