Personal Construct Psychology

Personal construct psychology represents a fundamentally different way of understanding psychological life. While it has various tributaries, PCP has its origins as a systematic and thoroughgoing theory in the work of the American psychologist George Kelly (1905-1966). Kelly's two volume work, The Psychology of Personal Constructs, published in 1955 (New York: Wiley; republished in 1991 in a new format by Routledge, London), drew together some three decades of thinking, research, and clinical practice by Kelly and his students and colleagues.

The theory is given as a fundamental postulate and eleven (11) corollaries, and Kelly elaborates these in the two volumes, as well as in other writings. Some of these last writings have been edited by Brendan Maher and published as Clinical Psychology and Personality (New York: Robert E. Kreiger Publishing Company).

This initial work provides the core ideas that have been extended well beyond their initial focus of convenience in clinical psychology to fields such as management, sport psychology, and education. In addition, their philosophical alignments have been examined and Existential, phenomenological and hermeneutical themes uncovered.

Further, compatibilities with psychodynamic perspectives have been elaborated, and the 'fit' with cognitive psychology critically examined. All of these developments are documented in an extensive literature of research and scholarly writing that is easily accessible through the links provided in this site. The Journal of Constructicist Psychology, which began its life as the International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology, is particularly relevant.

In essence, PCP offers a radical and a comprehensive approach to understanding psychological life. A 'nutshell'statement of PCP is:
The cardinal quality of personal construct psychology is its recognition that psychology is man's understanding of his own understanding. By making its model man [personkind] 'man [the person] the scientist-psychologist' it presents us with a framework which is cousin to history and poetry, while embodying the kind of systematic attack, public definition and experimental articulation which are the universal aspects of science. It is a psychological theory which admits that values are implicit in all psychological theories and takes as its own central concern the liberation of the person" (Bannister, D. and Fransella, F.Inquirying man; The theory of personal constructs, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1971, p. 12)