Experiencing, construing, and verbalizing

Mancuso, James C. (mancusoj@capital.net)
Wed, 09 Dec 1998 19:42:34 -0500


Michael Mascolo continues to pursue me on the issue of whether or
not I am suggeting that the term construing is reserved for verbalizable
categorization. I insist that I have not done that.
I grant that I might have left that impression -- since I wrote
specifically of "experiencing one's self as DEPRESSED."
Perhaps I would have better made my point by having said, "REPORTING
one's self as DEPRESSED." By that, I meant that the reporter takes up
the diagnosis narrative; that is, the depression narrative, and reports
that he/she has categorized his/her self using that superordinate

There is much subordinate construing that precedes this REPORT of
the use of the diagnostic narrative, and I would not want to leave the
impression that that construing has proceeded by a series of processes
by which verbal/auditory signs are attached to the inputs in order to
categorize the inputs [i. e., range the inputs on a series of
subordinate constructs].

Again, taking issue with the people who seem to believe that
personal construct psychology has reason to shun the plethora of rich
studies of cognitive processes that are available, I would refer an
interested party to the work of Gregory Ashby and his associates [ Ashby
and Gott, 1988, Decision rules in the perception and categorization of
multidimensional stimuli. J of experimental Psy [learning and
cognition, vol 14, 33-53; and Ashby, Boynton, & Lee, 1994,
Categorization response time with multidimensional stimuli, Perception
and psychophysics, v. 55, 11-27.]
Though I am somewhat unhappy with the implied ontology -- that
dimensions lie within the stimulus pattern -- these works do give us
models for construing construction processes.
What I take from these studies is something like this: We
categorize the putative source of stimulus inputs in very rapid bursts,
on the basis of first locating the pattern along constructs [identifying
the "dimensions" in the pattern] -- that categorization process then
leading to the location of the pattern on a superordinate construct.
I am willing to extrapolate these studies to considerations about
categorizing [building a construction about] the self [in context, of
I see no necessity of regarding this process as a matter of verbal
labeling, though verbal labeling does facilitate our ability to prompt
others to construe the events as we construe them -- e. g. "I am

Jim Mancuso

James C. Mancuso        Dept. of Psychology
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sonal Construct Psychology