2 Different Learning Styles
Residential Property Management
Residential Property Management
Assistant Manager, Leasing
Hospitality Reservations Manager
Commercial Ast ManagerOr Read:
Personal Construct Psychology
Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) is known as such, rather
than as a “theory”, because it is the only approach in psychology
which was developed from the start as a complete psychology,
explicit about its asumptions and theoretical base. Although
often treated as a cognitive approach alongside others — and
seeming a little too rational in some respects — it claims
to go beyond the distinction between cognition, emotion and
conation (“will”) found in all other psychologies.
It was invented single-handed by George Kelly
in 1955 (with a two-volume, 1,000+ page monograph, which is
still the definitive work in the field). He explicitly set out
to replace the models of the person adopted by behaviourism
(the person as a ping-pong ball, continually batted between
stimulus and response, in Bannister's paraphrase), and by psychoanalysis
(the person as a dark cellar where a maiden aunt is locked in
mortal combat with a sex-crazed monkey, with the whole thing
refereed by a rather nervous bank clerk, according to Bannister),
with the model of “man(sic) as scientist”. Excuse
the sexism, this was 1955. The best introduction is still
The theory is set out in his major work as a series of
formal postulates and corollaries
but its essence is that personal identity is defined by
the way we construe
or “understand” our personal
worlds. It is therefore a phenomenological approach, rather
than a positivist one. All action and thinking
is undertaken, PCP maintains, in a “scientific” manner.
This basically means trying things out to see whether they
work: our “constructs” or ways of making sense of the world,
are not necessarily conscious and articulate, but may be
inferred from behavior. Kelly does not refer to learning
at all, but to changes in constructs over time
— but this
is principally because the process of learning is so ubiquitous
in the system.
Its major tool is the “Repertory Grid”,
which is an amazingly ingenious and simple idiographic device
to explore how people experience their world. It is a table
in which, apart from the outer two columns, the other columns
are headed by the names of objects or people (traditionally
up to 21 of them). These names are also written on cards,
which the tester shows to the subject in groups of three,
always asking the same question: “How are two of these similar
and the third one different?”
The answer constitutes a “construct”,
one of the dimensions along which the subject divides up
her or his world. Some constructs, such as “male” and “female”
(when applied to people) are too commonplace to be of much
interest (although the question why they matter in this
particular case may well be interesting), but it is the
personal constructs which say a lot about the person.
If, for example, the names (or “elements”) were cars, then
the “male-female” construct might be much more revealing.
There are conventions for keeping track of the constructs.
When the grid is complete, there are several ways of rating
or ranking all of the elements against all the constructs,
so as to permit sophisticated analysis of core constructs
and underlying factors (see Bannister
and Mair, 1968) and of course there are programs
which will do this for you.
Constructs do not have to be dictionary
opposites: “Unselfish” might be a more meaningful opposite
to “Mean”, for a given subject, than “Generous”.
The number of constructs generated before
the subject begins to repeat them can be revealing. 24—30
is about the norm. People with obsessional traits (“one-track
minds”) may generate far fewer: schizophrenics far more.
The tester can deliberately deal combinations of the cards
to test hypotheses, or get the subject to rank all the items
from one pole to another: the resulting scores are amenable
to statistical processing to get at the major construct
families. Or the tester can ask “why?” the subject has developed
a construct: the resulting explanation gets at the “superordinate”
constructs, which are hierarchically organised.
Personal construct theory gives one of
the richest possible accounts of a person's cognitive processes,
and has been developed as a tool in “conversational"
models of learning. It is however, cumbersome to use with
groups of students.
Formal Content of Personal Construct
Postulate: a person's processes are
by the ways in which he anticipates
- Construction Corollary: a person anticipates
events by construing their replications
- Individuality Corollary: Persons differ from
each other in their constructions of events
- Organization Corollary: Each person charactersitically
evolves for his convenience in anticipating events, a construction
system embracing ordinal relationships between constructs
- Dichotomy Corollary: A person's construct system
is composed of a finite number of dichotomous constructs
- Choice Corollary: A person chooses for himself
that alternative in a dichotomized construct through which
he anticipates the great possibility for the elaboration
of his system.
- Range Corollary: A construct is convenient for
the anticipation of a finite range of events only
- Experience Corollary: A person's construction
system varies and he successively construes the replications
- Modulation Corollary: The variation in a person's
construction system is limited by the permeability of the
constructs within whose ranges of convenience that variants
- Fragmentation Corollary: A person may successively
employ a variety of construction subsystems which are inferentially
incompatible with each other.
- Commonality Corollary: To the extent that one
person employs a construction of experience which is similar
to that employed by another, his processes are psychologically
similar to those of the other person.
- Sociality Corollary: to the extent that one person
construes the construction processes of another he may play
a role in the social process involving the other person.
This language will be very confusing on first encounter,
but that reflects the innovative nature of the model.
- PCP is psychological:
i.e. it’s not about the brain, or culture, but
the mind: it is quite clear about its level of
analysis and its “range of convenience”
- “Channelized”: other psychological
theories see the person (or organism, indeed), as a
static entity, requiring some other agency to prod it
into action. They postulate “needs”, or “drives” for
this purpose. PCP rejects this: a person is seen as
a process, always making efforts to understand
and always acting on and in the world. Hence the ubiquity
of the assumption of learning and the lack of need for
a separate theory.
- “Anticipates”: PCP is
future-oriented. The person is only a product of memory
and learning insofar as she makes use of these in her
construct system. She is a scientist in formulating
hypotheses (her constructs) about the world she perceives,
and testing them by acting on them.
Original content updated and hosted at