The Psychology of Personal Construct

Published: 2021-06-29
636 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Middlebury College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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George A Kelly, a renowned American psychologist, was born in Kansas to poor but hardworking Midwestern farmers. Throughout his early life, Kelly did not receive much of a formal education, but instead, much of his education was limited to teachings from his parents. However, as of 1918, Kelly began his formal education journey, which eventually contributed to his career as a famed psychologist, who during the Great Depression, started applying his psychological knowledge towards pursuing his passion in evaluating both schools going children and adults. In the realm of his career, Kelly developed his landmark theory, which saw him became famed for his substantial contribution to the Personal Construct Theory. As he formed his opinion, Kelly developed a keen interest in the study of the works of the famous Austrian psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud for both ideas and inspiration.

As George Kelly presented this theory of personality and cognition, his desire was to introduce it as a primary alternative to both behaviorism and psychodynamic theories, which are recognized as the principal and current approaches to human understanding which was inspired by a lot of Freuds work. However, during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, the predominant psychological theory was that human beings were driven by unconscious and innate needs that could manifest in numerous ways that would lead to an emotional upset. Nonetheless, although Kelly, appreciated much of Freuds thoughts, he began to feel that the psychoanalysts approach was not convincing enough and therefore introduced the personal construct theory. His theory, in the deepest essence, suggested that there was a significant difference between different people. This difference, he contended, was as a result of the different ways that people use to predict and also interpret the events in the world around us. In this particular theory, Kelly suggested that the personal constructs were the ways that each and every person gathers and evaluates information as well as the development of its interpretations (Ewen, 2014).

With reference to the human nature, Kelly contends that the basic behavior and thoughts of human beings are primarily guided by a set of personal constructs which allow individuals the ability to predict future events. In a similar vein, Kelly regards humans as scientists who pursue predictions as a primary factor so as to allow them to achieve the ultimate control of events (Ewen, 2014). Additionally, when compared to the beliefs of the basic human nature, Kellys is in agreement with the basic human nature which believes that we are each entirely worthy of existence. This being the case, just like a child develops with age, the predictive quality of human beings, as proposed by Kelly, is continually enhanced through the creation of alteration of constructs.

Besides, the feel of inferiority and striving for superiority, in this case, is borrowed from Alfred Adlers individual psychology body of theories. In his account, Alder suggests that the primary motive that is behind both the human behavior and thought are the ability if humans to strive for superiority. Also, the strive for superiority is, in this case, considered a compensation of an individuals feeling of inferiority. More so, Alder also believes that we as humans are born into this world with a distinct sense of inferiority, an aspect which gives each one of us, a sense of individuality.

In conclusion, from a personality structure perspective, a particular reference is made to Sigmund Freuds psychoanalytic theory of personality development which suggests that an individuals personality is formed through conflicts which are among three fundamental structures of our human mind. The primary structures include a persons Id, ego, and superego. Precisely, the Sigmund Freuds psychoanalytic personality theory highlights that the human behavior is always as a result of interactions among these three components of the human mind.


Ewen, R. B. (2014). An introduction to theories of personality. London: Taylor and Francis.

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