Construct Theory of Personality | Analysis

Describe Kelly’s personal construct theory of personality, and compare this approach with other psychological theories of personality.

Over the years psychologists have developed different theories to define observable differences in individual’s personalities (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). The history of personality psychology datedates vack for man centuries and has been traced as far as four centries before Christ (Cervone, 2013). Earlier records of personality theories all tended to have a philosophical basis. Suc as Aristotle who believed that personality could be broken down into four facors, iconic which ddepicted an individuals social place within society (Ryckman, 2012).). During the mid 18th century personality theories began to move towards meurological assumptions to explain behaviour and personality which adopted an anatomy perspective, for example Gall argued that by measuring the skull explanations could be drawn regarding an individuals personality type (ref). During the 1920’s Freud famousy conceptualised personality traits in relation with conscious and unconcsioucs thoughts which depicted behaviour (ref). The psychodynamic approach move towars humanist approaches to personality in the 1940’s and 1950s with Maslows development of th eh hierarchy of needs approach theoryRogers in the latte 1950s who argued that we strive to acieve our best according to our persoaity taking influence fro the likes of Maslow (Ryckman, 2012). Finally, cognitive psychology is the most modern approach to understanding personality. Cognitive psychology refers to the study of mental processes and adopts a more biological approach which has been integrated significantly into modern understanding of personality psychology (Eysenck & Keane, 2010). Personality theories attempt to understand behavioural variation in individuals using a range of psychological characteristic definitions such as introvert and extrovert personality types (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). A significant amount of earlier research focused upon personality traits as being heritable particularly in the behaviourist and psychodynamic theories (Eaves, Eysench, Martin, & Eaves, 2014) and before the 1950’s it was generally accepted that personality traits were inherited which followed with an influx of twin based studies (Allport, 1937).

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In 1955, George Kelly developed the personal construct theory. Personal construct theory was designed as an alternative approach to understanding individual personality which viewed personality as an individual experience (Maktby, Day & Macaskill, 2007). During the 1950’s Kelly revolutionalised the ways in which personality and human understanding were approached by moving away from the behaviourist and psychodynamic approaches. Instead the personal consttuct theory was deeply scientific adopting a phenomenological approach which moved away from the more favoured observational approaches to personality research methodology (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). Using this phenomenological approach personal construct theory allows for variation to be made in personality so as not to refine it into categories but whilst also accepting that personality can change either thrugh individual of social influences (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). Additionally, the sceitnific approach to personal construct theory means that it take a qualitative research perspective which give s the teory greater research power than other methods such as the psychodynamic and behaviourist which are heavily biased towards quantitative methodologies.(Ryckman, 2012).

The personality construct theory changed personality theory in the 1950’s by presenting the view that people should be treated as scientists. Kelly argued that individuals undertake an ongoing experiment from which their understanding of the world continually develops ( Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). Kelly believed that during this experimental process the individual would internalise ideas of reality which would lead to a greater understanding of the world (Kelly, 1963). Interpretations, observations, experiences formed the basis of the personality construct theory (Kelly, 1963). The personal construct psychology stance challences the notion that experience should simply be separated into categories of thining and feeling and how these impact upon individual personality and behaviour (Raskin, 2013). Kelly successfully argued towards a scientific, quantifiable approach to understanding personality traits however, the approach has received extensive criticism for failing to incorporate an account for emotion. Chiari (2013) has stated that previously Kelly’s approach to the personal construct theory has failed to include the role of emotion whch is considered by many modern psychologists to be fundamental to the development of personality. Chiari (2013) has stated that instead Kelly overlooks what would experiences which would normally come under the realms of emotion and suggested instead constructivist epistemology approach. However, it has been argued that the use of tese transitions o not aquately account for the role of emotion in human life (Chiari, 2013). For example, the cognitive approach to understanding personality has viewed personality relate to resulted in a deficit in the schemata which wauses issues relate to judgement and cognitive error (Eysenck & Keane, 2010).

Fundamental to Kelly’s approach and what seperates the pesnal construct theory from other approaches is the argument that expectation and prediction drive the human mind ((Maktby, Day, & Macaskill, 2007). Kelly believed that from this events can be predicted and anticipated in a process of continual personal development which was not centred upon predisposed genetics or biological factors (Maktby, Day, & Macaskill, 2007). Kelly (1963) believed passionately that personality development aimed for the individual to achieve utmost knowledge of the world around them from which they could develop a sense of self and belonging (Maktby, Day, & Macaskill, 2007). Similarly to Kelly (1963) Rogers (1947) believed that perception of self was the driving factor behind behaviour and understanding of the world and based successful non-directive theory upon this principle Similarly to Kelly, Rogers believed that personality development was a lifelong, ongoing process of development (Rogers, 1963). However, Rogers’s theory of self-actualisation has been heavily criticised for providing very limited understanding and application within human personality in the twentieth century and in modern western society (Geller, 1982).

Viktor Frnkl was another highly inflencital humanist psychologist Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist.Frankl delwas highly influential in the development of existential therapy as well as being a source of significant in the development of humanist psychology. Frankl was a holocaust survivor and a great deal of his work fucesd upon seeing positive in the darkest of scenarios, his work on suicisde prevention strategies received significant attention.Frankl belived that people were innately driven by a desire to find meaning in life which allowed people to survive and overcome incredibly dark and traumatic experiences.Franks experience in the concentration camps shaped his therapeutic approach and philospophical approach to psychology. Franl’s work demonstrated the impact of socio-polictical influences on personal development by demonstrating the innate human drive to find positives in desperate circumstances and suffericng.

George Kelly believed that humans had an innate need to gain knowledge and experiences from their environment throughout all stages of life (Butt, 2008). Dependent upon these life experiences the personal construct theory presented a flexible and highly person centred approach to personality (Kelly, 1963). Kelly believed that by constructing a situation based upon previous experience and what we have learnt from similar in the past allows individuals to be active problem solvers who can formulate accurate hypotheses for the future (Butt, 2008). One of the key strengths of the personal construct system is that the theory has allowed for reliable behavioural predictions to be made on an individual basis and throughout adult life which do not rely upon preconstructed personality traits or genetic factors (Butt, 2008). For example, personality trait theory focuses upon quantifiable personality traits which are used to predict individual thought processes and behaviour (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). Trait theorists have argued that individual personalities individuals can be understood in terms of returning patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviour which can be scientifically examined using quantitative methodologies (John, Robins & Pervin, 2008). However, there are a number of issues and implications relating to stereotype colliery when all individuals are categorised dependent upon their personality traits.

To demonstrate this Lee and Adams-Webber (1987) conducted a projective test of the golden section hypothesis in a perosnltiy trait stereotypy setting. The golden raio is normally used in mathematics and refers to two quantifiable objects being in the golden ration if their ratio is equal to the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two objects qunantitities.Lee and Adams-Webber (1987) conducted a projective test o the golden section hypothesis during which twenty-fourtdents were required to complete a grid which categorise their personalities into ten comic book characters using twelve bipolar constructs as the basis for their selections such as “generous-mean”. The oerall results identified that the proportion of characters which were assigned to positive poles of constructs was 0.615 which was identified to be significantly in line with the golden section (approximately 0.618).That is, out of 2, 880 judgements, 1772 were identified to be positive in nature which support the mathematical model fo the golen section hypothesis. This These results suggest that the proportion of positive personality jusdemetns can be computed to be approximately 0.615 which is very close to the experimenters hypothesised estimate of 0.618. The experimenters have also reported that simpliar results were identified using similar sets of ersonality constructs. The study has also ifentified the negative aspects of negative judementss and stereotypes which can be construed base upo appearance nd impressiin the society.ons which cause individuals to assign a negative construct with further implications

However, despite the limitations the trait theory approach to personality testing remains to be a popular choice by researchers due to the ability to provide an accurate description of an individuals personality which can be accurately assessed scientifically. Similarly to the person construct theory personality traits are universal and relevant regardless of age, race or gender however they are more concrete and less flexible which has formulated the theories main criticism (Ryckman, 2012). Furthermore, as th study by Lee and Adams-Webber (1987) demonstrated to an extent the trait theory approach does not adequately account for issues such as abnormal personality disorders and can encourage negative personality stereotypy (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011).

Throughout the history of personality theory, the hereditary and biological explanation has had a tendency to be overused in research. A substantive proportion of this work has relied heavily upont win and adoption studies. However, the reliance on such studies has caused a large amount of criticism in recent years where a more integrated approach to research has been favoured. Twin studies have a number of experimental biases including reliabilitu and replicability, the results tend not to be generalisable to the general population due to the unique nature of the twin relationship and nurturing environment (Eaves, Eysneck, Martin & Eaves, 2014). Loehlin, McCrae, Costa and John (1998) investigated the heritability fctor of the Big Five personality imensions using data taken from the National Merit Trwin study The researchers used behaviour-genetic models to identify similiarites bbtetween the three separate measures the results of the model identifie that the Big Five personality dimesntions were significantly heritable and substantially so which was ine wih other similar studies. No significant variation was identified between gender, for measures agreeableness and conscientiousnsess shared environment was found to be measure specific and for estraversiona nd neuroticisim models which ncorporated a genetic element provided better fits.The results from… are consistent across the majority of twin and genetic base studies for all five of the Big Five Personality Facts. For example, Jang, Liversley & Vemon (1996) identified the following braod genetic influence on the five demensions of Neuroticism, extraversion, Openness, Agreeableneess, and Conscentiousness at 41%, 53%, 61%, 41% and 44% rerospectovely.

Overall, it has been concluded that there is a strong genetic component to the individual differences basis to theories of personality which overwhelms theories of learnt traits (Ryckman, 2013). Overall, when Kelly’s theory of personality is compared to the humanist, behaviourist and psychodynamic theories, the approach provides an accurate scientific model for understanding personality and one which can be applied without limitation in childhood and adulthood. Personal construct theory has a significant streghth in its detailed and holistic view which has significantly increased understanding in individual differences in regardto personality rather than theoryies such as the trait theory (Eynsneck) which has viewed personality as being biologically determined and et in rigid categories which leaves little room for individual adaption and variation (ref).( Langdridge & Taylor, 2007). However, there are issues of generalisability with the personal construct theory which are less of an issue compared with other approachs such as thetrai thery,


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