Re: Help with origin of Kelly "myth"

Jack Adams-Webber (
Fri, 24 Mar 95 08:58:35 -0500

>On the pcp oral tradition circuit I have heard it said that Dr Kelly
>(being pc - does that mean we are politically correct psychologists?)
>regretted having designed repertory grids because of the uses to which
>the technique had been put and the way in which people unfamiliar with
>his writings had led to PCT becoming associated in some peoples's minds
>with grids as the be-all and end-all.
>What is the origin of this, and if it is not a myth, has anyone the
>reference? Maureen Pope suggested we ask you-all.
>Thank you very much.
>Gwyneth Cheeseman
>Department of Community Studies
>University of Reading


Since my own name has been called in connection with this question,
let me say this:

George Kelly clearly did NOT ever regret his having developed his
Role Construct Repertory Grid Test.

He encouraged his students to use it, and to adapt it to the
specific requirements of their own research.

A majority of his research students (including myself) employed
grid procedures in their M.A. & Ph.D. theses.

He also encourged us to employ it in clinical settings, and was
prepared to help us analyze and interpet grid data.


In the summer 1964, he gave a graduate course on personal construct
theory at Ohio State University (which I attended), about a third of which
was devoted to repertory grid methodlogy. This was my own introduction to
grid procedures.

In spring semester 1966, Kelly taught a graduate research methods
course at Brandeis University in which he spent considerable time on grid

This course is described by John Benjafield (1994: THINKING
CRITICALLY ABOUT RESERARCH METHODS). Benjafield was a student in this
course; and I, myself wa scurrently Kelly's Ph.D. student and his teaching
assistant in this particular cours.The following year, I filled in for him
when he went into hospital, and I eventually took it over after his death
in March, 1967 (by the way, the year of Kelly's death has been widely
misreported as 1966.

As some of you probably know, Benjafield and I have both published
several papers based on repertory grid methods, which we first learned from
George Kelly.

It might also be of some interest that Dennis Hinkle, as a
Postdoctoral Fellow, attended meetings of Kelly's research team at Brandeis
(1965-67), and was working on extensions of his implication grid procedure
at the time.

Ed Morse, another former Ph.D. student of Kelly from Ohio State,
was also a member of this research team during this period, and was
conducting grid research at Boston University.

In short, Kelly was still very actively involved with his students
and colleagues in the development of repertory grid procedures right up
until his untimely death.


Jack Adams-Webber Tel: 905 (688) 5544 [x 3714]
Department of Psychology Fax: 905 (688) 6922
Brock University E-mail:
St. Catharines, Ontario