Personal Construct Theory

Personal construct theory proposes that an individual’s personality is made up of mental lenses or frameworks through which we experience reality. Developed by George Kelly, personal construct theory focuses on mental structures called constructs that individuals use to interpret information and events.

Constructs are unique and vary from person to person because they are formed based on individual experiences. This theory differed from behaviorism and psychoanalysis when it was introduced because it placed emphasis on an individual’s influence on their personality instead of focusing solely on the environment or the unconscious.

For example, two friends are at a carnival and see a roller coaster. The first person gets excited and immediately wants to ride it. The second person is horrified, has a fear response, and wants to go on another ride. Personal construct theory would suggest these two different responses are explained by differing constructs- the two people have different individual experiences and mental frameworks that make them perceive the roller coaster in wildly different ways.