Intense Nature of Personal Structure

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Personal Construct Theory, or Personal Structure Psychology, is a theory of personality and perception founded psychologist named George Kelly in the 1950s. The philosophy is concerned with the neurological mechanisms ofbehavior.

IIn 1955, George Kelly presented his theory of personal structures. Behaviorism and psychodynamic theories (psychoanalysis) are alternatives to the two main approaches in place to understand human understanding. This act challenged existing psychological thinking. Traditionally, psychological research has considered all the people it has researched as topics. In this sense, Kelly suggested that we need to change nature about how we view science. 

What is Personal Structure Theory?

Personal Structure Theory is a theory of personality developed by George Kelly. The theory states that one’s personal experience, as well as the structure and habits of his/her mind, constrain the individual to perceive events in a certain way. It is a very holistic view because it includes conscious and unconscious processes together into a single explanation of human functioning.

How Does Personality Construction Work?

These cognitive structures differ based on one’s perception of themselves and their world so individuals can have multiple or even opposite perspectives on the same event because they operate from differing models of reality – which constructions were reinforced by their socialization process throughout life.

The premise of the theory of personal structures of George Kelly was direct but radical. He said that people never know the world directly, but with the images, they create from it. In this way, he perceives humankind as a scientist who constructs and changes his knowledge and hypothesis.

So structures, in addition to their contrasts, are mental maps that we observe the reality. So it’s necessary to find out what’s missing to define what something is, according to Kelly’s theory. For example, being happy for me may differ from being happy for someone else, depending on how they interpret each one emotionally wrong. The theory of George Kelly’s personal structures invites us to understand how each of us sees the world. Instead of using complex concepts of psychology to understand people, trying to understand this flow of thought by people on their own terms.

According to Kelly, people’s behavior is based on both reality and our perception of reality. We perceive the stimuli in the environment as well as interpret them within the framework of our expectations and react accordingly. In his eyes, we are all scientists. We set up hypotheses about the world around us, test them and make some decisions based on their results. These decisions, sometimes wrong and sometimes correct, are the way we make sense of the world.

We are all different from each other as we look alike, and none of us’s mindset exactly matches the other. Based on this, our viewpoints express the difference in our perception of the world. At the same time, Kelly emphasizes that they always adhere to the past and influence the effects of individual differences when constructing events through people’s expectations.

 Along with his proposition, he created his theory with the assumption that processes were psychologically guided through expectations about events, and tried to enlighten various aspects of human behavior with their propositions. And in this theory he called Personal Structures Theory, he defined “personal structures” as the cognitive structures that we use to understand and predict events.

Kelly says that the configuration systems we use consist of a limited number of valuable structures, that is, a bipolar structure with opposite properties. He says that when we make decisions about something, we use patterns like good or bad, ugly or beautiful. He states that in order to create a perception, we should be able to see the similarities between events and match these events with their opponents.

According to Kelly, for a person to get along with someone else, it will be enough for him to understand how he structured his world, that is, what he did or why. He says that people must play various roles in order to understand each other’s personal structures. In this way, the person can interpret his personal structure by putting himself in the shoes of another person. Role concept has a central importance in Personal Building Theory. Kelly interprets the roles from a psychological perspective rather than a social perspective. 

The role of a person does not depend on his position in society. It depends more on how this role is interpreted by the person. When the person plays the role, he acts according to the belief in what the other person thinks and temporarily puts himself in the person’s place. Therefore, roles are determined not by the standards of society, but by understanding the personal structures of other people.

After Kelly’s Personal Structure Theory was published in 1955 and named “Psychology of Personal Structures” for a short time, it was a focus of attention, but unfortunately, it lost its popularity and was largely forgotten except for a few students who were busy with their clinical practice instead of theoretical expansions in personality psychology.

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Aaron Beck

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About Author

He is studying psychology in Canada. Lucas also volunteers helping elderly people in nursing homes. Lucas, who is especially interested in hypnotherapy, continues his education and research in this field.

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