A stimulating article

(no name) ((no email))
Sat, 23 Sep 1995 10:10:20 -0400 (EDT)

I want to call attention to a very valuable article
that has come into my hand. To do so, I will offer
something of a preamble, and then will make some comments on
the content of that article.
I do hope that I will stimulate some discussion!!!

On several occasions, attempts have been made to
diminish our neo-Kellian view of personal construct
psychology by referring to this view as "entirely TOO
I have never been able to determine why ultra-
cognitivism is regarded as a fault of neo-PCP! I think that
this charge is assumed to have validity because the person
making the charge has a limited view of cognitive processes
and of the results of current studies of those processes. I
think that those making this charge take a REACTIVE view of
cognitive processing to be the prevailing view. Taking a
reactive view of cognitive processing would say something
like this, "We build a construction. Store it away, and
then retrieve that construction in situations in which
inputs appear to replicate that construction." Thus, this
semblance of constructivism sees persons as being reactive,
rather that PROACTIVE. [Thanks to Mike Mahoney s
clarification of this distinction, in his articles in early
numbers of the JPCP.] That is, yes, it does see persons as
constructing their own world views [with some help from the
surrounding cultures], but once those views are developed
the person is then constantly REACTIVE. The limitations of
this kind of view can be adduced quite readily -- e.g., we
would forever give the EXACT same self presentation whenever
we found our selves in a particular situation!!
A proactive constructivism would require that, in every
instance, the persons builds on-the-spot constructions to
fit over inputs.

With the next part of this preamble, I would like to
point out the tremendous power of the formulations offered
in Kelly s original personal construct theory. The power
emanates, as it should, from the comprehensive fundamental
postulate of Kelly s theory -- "A person's processes are
psychologically channelized by the ways in which he
anticipates events."

If one cannot find, in the cognitive science literature,
a foundation for this postulate, then cognitive science will
be of little value for the development of a neo-PCP. [That's
an assertion. I could back it up with other exposition.]

In 1981, when Jack Adam-Webber and I wrote the chapter
on the fundamental postulate in the book which we edited
[The Construing Person}, we took up the work of some of the
cognitive scientists [p. 25 of the chapter] to support the
idea that ANTICIPATIONS is reflected in the cognitive
science work which supports the idea of "models," or
"standards." We gave special attention to a paper written
by Stephen Grossberg, which appeared in PSYCHOLOGICAL
REVIEW, 1980 -- How does the brain build a cognitive code?
Notice the brain BUILDS a cognitive code.
We took these standards to be the schemata which a
person builds as he/she processes the flow of inputs. We
had stated, "In a contextualist model of persons, where
schemata are a central strand in the context, one's
ANTICIPATIONS are nothing other than the schemata that are
ASSEMBLED to incorporate, integrate, or assimilate the
incoming information." [Let me note that I would support the
proposition that the unit of "storage" from which these
standards are ASSEMBLED would be the dichotomous constructs
which are hierarchically organized in the person's construct
system -- but again, that's a whole other set of bags.] The
point is, these standards are built on-the-spot, and they
are built in order to anticipate the continued flow of

Okay -- I promised a long preamble....
Now for the article I want to recommend. Stephen
Grossberg has written a superb article, which is published
in the September-October, 1995 number of THE AMERICAN
SCIENTIST - the organ of Sigma Xi. The title: THE ATTENTIVE
With this article in hand, I stand boldly to face the
charge that our neo-PCP is "too cognitive."

I do hope that I have stimulated all of our PCP
colleagues to rush right out to the library, to copy this
article, to study it, and to tell me how I am right [or
wrong] to willingly accept the claim that a neo-PCP can
incorporate Grossberg's ideas into our broader theory.

One problem, which I will need to think more about as I
restudy Grossberg's article. He does talk about FEATURES of
down-to-top and top-to-down processing. Can I legitimately
claim that we can substitute ONE OR ANOTHER POLE OF A

Happy reading -- I hope to hear from all of you.

Jim Mancuso