Main Page
Alphabetical Index

Hints for prints


Although personal construct theory does not employ psychiatric nosological categories such as schizophrenia, there have been numerous personal construct studies of people diagnosed as schizophrenic. George Kelly (1955) suggested that such individuals may be characterised by loose construing, and this was examined by Bannister (1960, 1962) in a series of studies associating schizophrenic thought disorder with weak relationships between constructs and inconsistencies in the pattern of these relationships. His ‘serial invalidation hypothesis’ (Bannister, 1963, 1965) proposed that thought disorder arises as a response to consistent invalidation of a person’s construing, but his attempt to reverse this process by serial validation of construing resulted in a ‘not proven’ verdict (Bannister et al., 1975). These studies led to the development of a diagnostic instrument for schizophrenic thought disorder using repertory grid technique (Bannister and Fransella, 1966); and a large body of subsequent research (Winter, 1992). Arguably their most important implication has been that the predicament of the person diagnosed as schizophrenic can be viewed in terms of the same processes of construing as characterise the functioning of the ‘normal’ individual.

More recent explorations from the personal construct theory perspective of people diagnosed as schizophrenic have focused upon their poorly elaborated self-construing (Gara et al., 1989).


  • Bannister, D. (1960). Conceptual structure in thought-disordered schizophrenics. Journal of Mental Science, 106, 1230-49.
  • Bannister, D. (1962). The nature and measurement of schizophrenic thought disorder. Journal of Mental Science, 108, 825-42.
  • Bannister, D. (1963). The genesis of schizophrenic thought disorder: a serial invalidation hypothesis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 109, 680-86.
  • Bannister, D. (1965). The genesis of schizophrenic thought disorder: re-test of the serial invalidation hypothesis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 111, 377-82.
  • Bannister, D., Adams-Webber, J.R., Penn, W.I., and Radley, A.R. (1975). Reversing the process of thought disorder: a serial validation experiment. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 14, 169-80.
  • Bannister, D. and Fransella, F. (1966). A grid test of schizophrenic thought disorder. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 5, 95-102.
  • Gara, M.A., Rosenberg, S., and Mueller, D.R. (1989), Perception of self and other in schizophrenia. International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology, 2, 253-70.
  • Kelly, G.A. (1955). The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York: Norton.
  • Winter, D.A. (1992). Personal Construct Psychology in Clinical Practice: Theory, Research and Applications. London: Routledge.

David A. Winter

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004