Explanation of Personal Constructs

What is a personal construct? How are personal constructs related to social perspectives? What is the relationship between personal constructs and behavior?

Personal constructs are defined as characteristic ways of construing how some things are alike and some things are different from one another. A personal construct can be thought of as a subjective way to organize, relate, and differentiate various types of information in an attempt to better predict and control future experiences. An individual develops personal constructs to form a kind of hypotheses as a way of anticipating what may or may not occur in social situations. Personal constructs are ways of anticipating social experiences and anticipations guide behavior and experience. An individual with a permeable construct is open to change and may be seen by others as very open-minded; by contrast, a person with a lower permeable construct may be seen as inflexible and rigid. For example, discussing political perspectives with an individual lacking a permeable construct may come off as defensive and rude as the intensity of the conversation builds with conflicting views. A construct that is too permeable changes with virtually every experience, and therefore is a poor aid in the anticipation of events. When personal constructs contradict each other, it is difficult to make consistent sense of the world and anticipate events in an adaptive way. Our behavior is negatively influenced by fragmented constructs, causing possible avoidant behavior.

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