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"A person's processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he anticipates events" (Kelly, 1955, Vol. 1, p. 46), and these ways are in the form of constructs. The reference to anticipation in the theory’s fundamental postulate bears witness to its central role in PCP.
The person is not determined by inner drives as in Freudian psychoanalysis, or by environmental stimuli like behaviourism, or by a potential for self-realisation as in humanistic psychologies. Rather the person, like a scientist, seeks prediction: he/she formulates hypotheses about the world and him/herself (by construing events), and verifies them by means of behaviour. Therefore, behaviour is not the answer: it is a way of posing a question (Kelly, 1966/1969). Rather it is an experiment that can result in validation or invalidation of what the person anticipates.
Anticipation is what motivates the person, being "both the push and pull of the psychology of personal constructs". As a consequence, "it is the future which tantalizes man, not the past. Always he reaches out to the future through the window of the present" (Kelly, 1955, Vol. 1, p. 49).
Given that events are set apart from each other by the construing of their replications (see construction corollary), it is impossible not to imply prediction whenever one construes anything. But anticipation should not to be confused with a rational, and hence communicable, process (even though Kelly uses the terms prediction and anticipation as synonymous). Given that personal constructs can be preverbal or nonverbal, our anticipation of many events (the so-called "physiological" processes in particular) can fall outside the system we use for communication. 


  • Kelly, G. A. (1955). The psychology  of personal constructs. (2 Volumes).  New York:  Norton. (reprint London, Routledge, 1991) 
  • Kelly, G. A. (1969). Ontological acceleration. In B. Maher (Ed.), Clinical psychology    and   personality: the selected papers of George Kelly (pp. 7-45) London: Wiley. (original work 1966)

Gabriele Chiari & M. Laura Nuzzo

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004