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Invalidation is one of the outcomes of the testing out of our construing. We act in a manner that is consistent with the ways we make sense of the world. By so doing we can consider the consequences of our behaviour. Sometimes our sense-making is contradicted by the feedback we receive about our experimentation. It is this that the term invalidation encompasses. At other times it is confirmed, what Kelly termed validation. The feedback we receive may be sensory - if I assume that the floor is solid and I find it crumbling when I start to step on it, I’m going to revise my theory and keep off it. But very commonly it is from the reactions of others, or our entering into the ways others’ see the world, that the effectiveness of our own construing is evaluated.

Invalidation may be particularly problematic in childhood when our developing sense of ourselves as a meaning-maker is crucially being elaborated. Bannister (1963), for example, linked serial invalidation with the development of schizophrenia. However invalidation is not, in itself, a problem but is central to the elaboration of our construing system in ways that approximate reality.


  • Bannister, D. (1963). The genesis of schizophrenic thought disorder: a serial invalidation hypothesis.  British Journal of Psychiatry, 109, 680-686.

Beverly M. Walker

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004