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A Critical Review Of Kelly’s Personality Theory In Personality Development

2648 words - 11 pages

1. Introduction
Personality is a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that gives both consistency and individuality to a person’s behavior (Feist & Feist, 2008).
For centuries, philosophers, personality theorists and other thinkers have been trying to answer: what personalities are like, how personalities are developed, why different personalities are developed and how personalities can be changed (Pervin & Cervone, 2013). George A. Kelly, an American psychologist born in 1905 in Kansa, is one of those major contributors in the field of personality psychology (Warren, 1998). In this paper, I am writing to critically review George A. Kelly's perspective on personality. I will first review Kelly's philosophy of personality. Then, I will review major concepts of Kelly's theory. Finally, I will critically evaluate Kelly's theory and share personal reflection on writing this paper.
2. Kelly’s Philosophy of Personality
Kelly's philosophy is positioned between two classical schools of thought. Behaviorist suggests that behavior is shaped by environment, in other words reality (Skinner, 1953). Phenomenologist holds that the only reality is what people perceive (Combs & Snygg, 1959). Kelly assumes that reality do exists while people may construe it in different ways (Kelly, 1955). He refers this assumption to be "Constructive Alternativism" (Kelly, 1963).
3. Kelly’s Theory of Personality
Kelly believes that people construe and predict daily life events in different ways, and the ways of construction and prediction define personalities (Stevens & Walker, 2002). Most of Kelly's ideas are presented in his two-volume book titled The Psychology of Personal Constructs (1995). To review his theory systematically, I am going to categorize the concepts into five major questions that personality theorists asked (Pervin & Cervone, 2013). They are namely a.) "Structure" which concerns what personalities are like; b.) "Process" which concerns why people behave that way; c.) "Development" which concerns how personalities are developed over life course; d.) "Psychopathology" which concerns why some personalities are maladaptive and e.) "Change" which concern how personalities, especially abnormal personalities, can be changed.
3.1. Structure: What Personalities Are Like?
In describing what personalities are like, Kelly abandons the classical threefold division of psychological phenomena: cognition, affection and conation (Kelly, 1955, p.130). Instead, he formulates his own personality theory with a single structure named "Construct". In this section, let's review the concept of construct and some of its features.
3.1.1. Core Structure: Construct
Construct is defined as "a representation of the universe, a representation erected by a living creature and then tested against the reality of that universe" (Kelly, 1955, p.12). According to Kelly, people make sense of the world by formulating their own models. They interpret things happened...

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