G. Kelly (1955) formulated an orientation, a point of view: a person constantly constructs meaning to regulate their actions. Implied: a person‘s psychological processes are channeled by the ways in which they anticipate events. Each person, according to Kelly, develops a set of rules to think of the world in. And then uses these rules to organize their life. Constructs rules and regulations with which the person “constructs“ their experiences.
Humans are thus curious researchers, constructing a network of concepts about reality. A personal constructions system whose nature is always pointing towards the future, so that it can be anticipated. The constructions that are most useful are those that increase the predictability, control and understanding of the events in question.
We formulate theories about the environment we are in, test our hypotheses against reality and store and/or change them depending on their validity for a person grows out of the ways in which other people act towards the person regarding the matter. So far as we are involved in interpersonal relationships, meaning is constantly created to regulate the participants‘ actions. The object is more precisely the set of “rules to think of the world in“ that continue to develop. Reality is read forward through newly acquired interpretations, theories and constructions systems of concepts and classifications. Reality, the real, is thought of through templates, patterns, variable schemas, images, diagrams, symbols and myths that are simultaneously created and read into the environment.
According to Kelly, this applies to the individual‘s psychological processes and the ways and methods, behavior, that channel the individual‘s anticipation of events and their own actions. The starting point is the individual‘s constructions, not the researcher‘s/psychologist‘s set of constructions that are transferred to the individual. The individual‘s constructions system of concepts and interpretations of themselves and of their fellow humans.
Man is himself a researcher, is himself a psychologist – and constructs a network of concepts, whose nature is always pointing towards the future, so that reality can be anticipated. The constructions that are most useful are those that increase the predictability, control and understanding of the events in question. The world is coherent, is continuous processes, man is continuous processes. It is therefore necessary to uncover the interconnections, create meaning of the chaotic – by making the world predictable. The individual constantly constructs meaning to regulate their actions.
Core Constructs: one of the most important constructions is the “self–other“ relation, an overarching construction from which many other constructions‘ qualities, content, and interrelations are determined. Core constructions lead to an external profile – a personality, i.e. lead to an “identity“ – “role“.
This is a psychological process that results in certain behaviors. Having an identity means following certain behavior patterns that make it easier for others to predict. These patterns or routines are based on understanding the concepts that the other people have with whom one is engaged in a social task. There are several possible roles to enter into, and some may be in conflict with each other. The role is determined by the relationships to others. The role as action and behavior can be seen both from the actor‘s position and from structural norms. In relation to a social structure, role understanding and performance are two significant perspectives:
Structural demands, norms, responsibilities in connection with social position. Imposed from the outside (officially/organizational/instinct–conditioning/habit)
Seen from the individual/person–oriented: orientation and perception of what, how one participates in a group/organization.
Kelly has summarized his considerations regarding the personal constructions in 11 maxims:
1. Construction Relation: a person anticipates events by constructing their repetitions. One establishes expectations by assuming that what was once stated will be the same next time.
2. Individuality Relation: people differ from each other in their constructions of events (people, properties, situations and actions).
3. Organizing Relation: each person develops a constructions system that includes an ordering system between the individual constructions and interpretations masses. Some constructions are more important, more central so that the network forms a hierarchical system. Several constructions are subject to a few overarching concepts.
4. Dichotomy Relation: a person‘s constructions system is composed of a finite number of bipolar constructions. A construction must specify a way in which two elements resemble each other. One can only say that two people or two situations are different from a third – in the same direction. A person cannot be described by a property that no one else has. No property exists that does not have an opposition. But a property can be described by a person.
Example. friendship – loneliness, Duty and Authority, Anxiety – Security, Happiness – Pain.
5. Choice Relationship: a person “chooses for themselves“ – “is controlled by“ the alternative in a dual construction, through which they anticipate the greatest possibility for expansion of their construction system. Depending on the chosen strategy, our categorizations can be directed in one or the other direction.
6. The construction system must always be improved and Kelly describes different strategies: e.g. the security–oriented – the bold, risky, adventurous, etc. Sticking to one‘s well–known constructions ensures immediate security, but on the other hand, it makes movement difficult when things go beyond one‘s construction system. For example, the safety–conscious is good at spotting the slightest threat, but not suitable for dealing with strangers.
7. Range Relationship: a construction is only complete for predictions within a limited range of events. What is a concept for, where can it be used where is it valid? Some word constructions are more extensive than others. Some psychological theories have limited applicability – as far as they go.
8. Experience Relation: A person‘s construction system changes as they construct the repeated events. Construction systems must be constantly changing as reality is handled. The constructions anticipate and the events confirm or refute our constructions. Kelly describes it as a C – P – C cycle (circumspection / circumspection – preemption / pre–emption – choice or control / choice).
9. Modulation Relationship: a change in a person‘s construction system is continue limited by the permeability (openness) of the constructions within whose validity range the elements lie. Constructions can be open or locked, fluid or solid.
10. Fragmentation Relationship: a person can successively use a number of different construction subsystems that are logically incompatible. Ambiguity tolerance, cognitive dissonance vs. congruence.
11. Community Relationship: To the extent that a person uses an experience categorization similar to another person‘s, his mental processes resemble that of the other person. Group belonging.
12. Sociality Relationship: To the extent that a person constructs, forms a perception, creates experience categories regarding another person‘s constructions, they can play a role in a social process involving the other person. (A expects that B will think that A expects that B will think that A will do so and so).