Kelly`s Personal Constructs


Kelly`sPersonal ConstructsAuthor’sTheFour Elements of Kelly’s Personal Constructs

PersonalConstruct Psychology was developed by George Kelly in 1955 and termedit as ’Man the Scientist’(Butt, 2008).The motive toward his theory was based on the fact that people seethings differently and react in unique ways depending on their pastexperiences. Kelly believed that individuals start by creating theirpersonal constructs on an issue. He used the word ‘construct’ tomean different views that people have, that make them derive certainconclusions. As a psychologist, Kelly argued that personalityinvolves various mental constructs by which every person sees world’sreality. He was of the opinion that every person in the world is likea scientists, where he strives to understand the world that surroundhim (Feistet al., 2013).It is from this understanding that predictions are made and theoriesare created.

Successfulinterpretation and prediction of events is considered as normalfunctioning of the human being’s constructs system. Kelly pointsout four psychological distresses as anxiety, fear, guilt and threat(Feist et al., 2013). He considers threat as the perception thatbasic constructs of an individual could be changed drastically.According to him, fear requires an incidental construct system asopposed to a restructured or comprehensive one. Anxiety is as aresult of someone knowing that he cannot confront a situation in anadequate manner. He defines guilt as the sense of an individuallosing his core role structure.In his argument, George Kelly observes that these reactions are basedon an individual level and in most cases they are unique(Butt, 2008).However, if people’s constructs are the same, then their reactionto certain changes will also be the same.

Heargues that an individual experiences fear when new constructs appearto interfere with the existing construct system. If a major change inthe construct system of a person is about to take place, anindividual feels threatened, for instance if there is an imminentdeath on the way. This exposure leads to confusion and someone maynot have a clear direction of the next action (Feist et al., 2013).In such a case, people may go back to old constructs or expose theirconstructs systems. If an individual is faced with both anxiety andthreat, he may as well adhere to a constricted system and avoid riskyprocess of expanding his construct system (Butt, 2008). People aremade anxious by the unknowns and threatened by unfamiliar territory,therefore becoming dogmatic and remaining with the truth. He suggeststhat if people behave like scientists, they should be able to expose their constructs and explore events in life.

Thereactions to the above situations can also be argued based on bipolarconstructs, where he contends that each is faced with two opposingforces. A good example is &quotfriendlyversus unfriendly&quot forces, where a person may construe asituation as friendly or unfriendly to him. He seems to be of theopinion that these reactions cannot be blamed on a person but on howan individual interprets information and knowledge (Butt, 2008).

Thisis contrary to the scriptural teachings, where for instance humanbeings are advised not to fear or feel threatened, for God is ontheir side. According to the book of Psalms 34, man will be deliveredfrom al his fears by the Creator. At the same time, forgiveness seemsto be the solution for someone filled with guilt. Scriptures informthat people are fully forgiven if they seek the same from God.

Humanbeings should not be anxious about anything but instead rely onprayers and supplications to God. Kelly’s Personal constructtheory, contrary to these teachings, seems to let human beingsinterpret situations for them and react accordingly.


Butt,T. (2008). GeorgeKelly: The psychology of personal constructs.Basingstoke: Palgrave


Feist,J., Geist, G. J., &amp Roberts, T. (2013). Theoriesof Personality Eighth Edition.New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.