|The C-P-C cycle
|The C-P-C Cycle is
described by Kelly as
the cycle of construction involved in decision-making in which the self
involved. He defines it as
sequence of construction involving, in
succession, circumspection, preemption, and control, and leading to a
which precipitates the person into a particular situation".
1955, pp 379-390/Vol. 1, pp 261-263/Vol. 2)
Circumspection is the stage in which we consider issues
propositionally, from a
variety of angles. In the preemption stage, we select what we
be the critical issue and eliminate the other options from
Finally, in the control phase we choose the alternative action
which we anticipate the greater possibility for extension or definition
In everyday terms, Kelly may appear to
doing little more than describing decision-making as a process of
options, choosing one, and making something happen, but this
ignores the difficulty many of us regularly experience in moving
through the three stages.
circumspection phase may be bypassed if
we construe preemptively, considering few,
if any, alternatives to our first
ideas. Our construction of the situation may be so simple that we
out of angles from which to view it". Interestingly, Kelly warns us
decisiveness we observe in those who preempt prematurely means that
often be perceived as leaders, since the tendency to speedy preemption
to characterise the "man of action".
We may also find ourselves exercising
maximum control by choosing
from a constricted range of possibilities as a way
of dealing with the anxiety and threat involved in opening up to more
multidimensional construing. We construe the situation preemptively, casting it
into a single issue in an impulsive
attempt to escape anxiety.
Alternatively, if we construe relatively
loosely, and habitually dilate our world to allow more and more
variations, the preemption stage
becomes the difficulty. The more we consider, the more
implications and possibilities emerge. Fascinating and significant
may be, staying in circumspection too
long holds us well back from any
action. Kelly describes vividly the soldier who, remembering his other
life and considering a variety of ways of construing his actions, may
himself unable to crawl out of his foxhole.
A reasonable balance of circumspection
and preemption allows
us to assume control – to
design and undertake an
behavioural experiment. A clear choice and robust experimental design
features of the control phase. While we are encouraged by Kelly to jump
both feet, we are also cautioned to make sure there is somewhere to
aim to elaborate our predictive system through action, but we also need
maintain its essential features, rather than find ourselves thrown into
As we consider the process of
decision-making from a variety of angles (that is, as we take a
view of the C-P-C cycle), we begin to see that, far from being a simple
rather obvious process, it might be unusual for us, individually or
collectively, to go through a well-balanced cycle. Kelly's insightful descriptions of the three
stages can help us discover what might be happening when
becomes problematic, and the cyclical model enables us see how we might
forward (or indeed backwards) with creativity.
- Kelly, G.A.
(1955). The Psychology of
Personal Constructs. New York: Norton.