Re: question

Lois Shawver (
Wed, 29 May 1996 10:45:47 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 29 May 1996, Gary Blanchard wrote:

> Hi friends. As you know, I'm new to the work of Dr. Kelly, but I want to
> learn and appreciate his contribution.
> One big question I have from reading recent conversations is: What is it
> that is a 'construct'? Please just give me your best working
> understanding, if you would, instead of referring me elsewhere. Like,
> what do you mean by 'construct' when you talk about it here?

May I try? Then people here with more experience can correct or improve
my statement? It should be easier for the experts to criticize a novice
in Kelly's theories like myself than to criticize each other's
definition. Right?

A construct is category in our minds that we use to identify things and
name them by differentiating these things from other things. What is
distinctive about Kelly's theory is that he held that each person
differentiates the initial category from other things differently,
although this difference is implicit. Thus, one person may say "thoughtful"
and differentiate, "thoughtful" people from "action" people. Another may
differntiate "thoughtful" people from "impolite" people. Still another
may differentiate them "thoughtful people" from "uncaring people".

I think the basic idea of construct theory is that each mind is populated
by a collection of these constructs. When we speak we use terms and the
terms do not reflect, entirely, what we are thinking because we do not
imagine, as a listener, the same "alternative" that the speaker has.
This can be remedied, I believe it is theorized, by testing people to
uncover their constructive alternatives.

..Lois Shawver