Re: change
Sat, 6 Apr 1996 22:09:47 -0500

Regarding "How People Change" and the confusion. Perhaps a distinction can
be made. Examining how "people" (Plural) change is best studied by another
field. Sociology studies how groups (Plural) evolve and change.

The individual readings and fields (Psychology, Communication Studies,
Philosophy) from which you have cited have all attempted to explain how
"individual persons" go about the business of changing.

Speaking from a Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) Point of View, one finds
it abhorrent philosophically to believe that you can make a single
description of how people change or how to cause them to change. A
behaviorist would be a bit more supportive....

A PCP believer and a constructivist strongly and fervently believes in the
role of individual choice. They believe there are an infinite number of
possibilities developed from a finite set of experiences and interpretations.
They also believe that the individual interpretation of those experiences is
as important in making future choices as any of the physical actions or
physical changes to that person or their surroundings.

George Kelly also believed strongly and put down the quest for the search for
a global definition of motivation as ludicrous. He felt strongly that life
was filled with motion and talks of time going by you like a river. The
water of time, motion, and change flowed past you whether you wanted it to or
not. You could not control what occurred around you, only your response to
those events. You had to "dig your oar into the water" and begin to try to
divide the events in ways you could understand or choose to allow them simply
to wash past you without interpretation. (The divisions or distinctions
between those alternatives are the individual constructs or constructions
upon which PCP is founded).

You have some control of the speed in which you must witness and your ability
to process those events. You also have some control in where you put your
oar but the events occur none the less.

The way in which you process those events falls to the individual and is an
individual process different in experience for every individual. PCP, I
believe, more than any other theory captures a method (no matter how
imperfect) to individualize the conceptions and interpretations of the person
in a way to help the person understand the present distinctions for which
they have made in interpreting their experiences.

This understanding of these interpretations may never be necessary.
Reinterpretations may never be necessary although this is unlikely. PCP is
helpful in eliciting an understanding of a person's present interpretations.

The person chooses then if and when they will change. PCP elicitations
through talk, grid, self-characterization, or observation can help you to see
the result of the changes.

PCP is most relevant in watching and helping a person who is interested in
experiencing change. It can help both you and another person predict and
attempt change at a managable pace. It also can help in designing and
perfecting perpetual flawed experiments for which poor data is always
obtained by formalizing and tightening one's experiments and interpretation.

It uses the metaphor of the scientist who is seeking new information in a
planful way. It also accepts as must all of us the ability to stay the same
or change.

Establishing what change is may come from others as a later part of what
appears to be an interesting thread of discussion. I have rambled long
enough and politely yield the electronic floor for further clarification,
thoughts, and discussion. It has been a long day...

John Fallon
Chicago, Il, USA