| The Choice Corollary
| A person
chooses for him- or her self that alternative in a dichotomized
construct through which he or she anticipates the greater possibility
for extension and definition of his or her system.
This corollary replaces the concept of motivation in PCP. In
orthodox psychology there is an assumption of Cartesian dualism: it is
assumed that a person is constituted by a mind (or set
of personal cognitions) inside a body. There is then a problem of how
mind, or psychological states, ‘kick-start’ the body into action. The
person is seen as normally at rest and inert. Theories of motivation
were designed to deal with this issue, and deal with factors that are
said to energize and direct behaviour. Kelly however, saw the person
"as a form of motion" (1955, p. 48) and claimed that PCP was a
thoroughgoing dynamic theory in that it "does not need any special
system of dynamics to keep it running" (1969, p. 89). By this he meant
that people are always doing something. He used the example of
a child labelled lazy by a teacher to point out that the child cannot
be doing nothing. It might be doing something other than is required,
or it might be apparently doing nothing so as to annoy the teacher. But
its actions are always intentional and directed towards some end or
The being we start with is already
alive and kicking – we do not have to invent anything to “motivate”
him! When we describe his “interests” we are calling attention to the
directions his activities take, rather than the amount of pressure
1955, p. 732)
So PCP does not need a theory of motivation to explain the energizing
of behaviour. But the direction of behaviour still needs explanation.
We might still want to know why a person does one thing rather than
another, or acts in a puzzling way. Such questions are certainly likely
to arise in psychotherapy, the focus of
convenience of PCP. Here people are often a puzzle to themselves,
‘finding themselves’ engaged in some form of self-destructive pattern
of behaviour. And
in everyday life we often wonder why we over-eat, get into pointless
arguments and don’t get down to our work. The Fundamental
Postulate of PCP proposes that human projects are not driven
by hedonism; life is not a simple matter of seeking pleasure and
pain. Instead, our action is in the service of anticipation .
This should not be taken to be the equivalent of prediction, the
cognitive component of anticipation. If prediction were the only goal,
Kelly pointed out that "man would delight in the ticking of a clock".
includes how we act with regard to the world; what Don Bannister
to as "beating the world to the punch". Kelly argued that we literally
live in anticipation and we do this in the only way we can - through
use of the construct systems that we have developed. So constructs are
just cognitive entities, but routes that channelize our action.
The Choice Corollary proposes that we draw on our dichotomized
constructs to take one course of action over another. The first point
to emphasize is that choice here is not to be seen as a conscious and
deliberate choosing of one line of action over another. The construing
to be unarticulated and pre-verbal . It is
also frequently between two unattractive alternatives - a dilemma . A second point is that
individuals do not choose between logical alternatives, but between the
alternatives that they see as open to them. So a therapist
might see arguing
with others as appropriately assertive, but this will be no use at all
if the client sees it as unforgivably aggressive (Winter, 1987; Butt
Bannister, 1987). The client might choose to be miserable and
rather than uncomfortable with a new aggressive course of action. In
cases, people make what Kelly termed "the elaborative choice": that
gives them a better position from which to anticipate future events.
T. (1998) Sedimentation and elaborative choice. Journal of
Constructivist Psychology, 11, (4) 265-281
T. & Bannister, D. (1987). Better the devil you know. In W.
Dryden (Ed.), Key cases in psychotherapy (pp. 127-147). London:
G.A. (1969). Ontological acceleration. In B. Maher (Ed.),
Clinical psychology and personality: the selected papers of George Kelly
(pp. 7-45) London: Wiley.
G.A. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. (2
volumes) New York: Norton.
D. (1987) Personal construct psychotherapy as a radical
alternative to social skills training. In R. A. Neimeyer & G. J.
Neimeyer (Eds), Personal construct therapy casebook. New York: