Cognitive Personality Theory

Majority of notes I took from the fantastic Maltby, Day and Macaskill ‘Individual Differences’ textbook (click image).

 

COGNITIVE PERSONALITY THEORIES

– give more creative & active roles to people in determining who they are & how they behave

– assign a role to inner processes (cognitions, thoughts) and external environment

 

GEORGE KELLY – THEORY OF PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS (1955) – READ

– we are scientists trying to understand & control our environment using personal interpretations

– we construct, test and change private hypotheses to make sense of events

personal constructs: criteria we use to perceive & interpret events (e.g. friendliness construct)

– we go through personal constructs & sub-constructs and make decisions (she’s chatty/quiet)

– personal constructs explain differences in behaviour & allows creativity in behaviour

constructive alternativism: adopting constructs (e.g. from friends) >> change in perceptions

 

CONCEPTS WITHIN KELLY’S THEORY

– we have free-will but thoughts & behaviour sometimes determined by e.g. goals

– our motivation to act comes from future aims, not past learning, early exp. or innate drives

– 11 corollaries describing personal construct organisation and functioning

 

PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT ACCORDING TO KELLY

– innate drive for accurate knowledge about our world, via formation of personal constructs

– personal constructs are developed & tested for accuracy & effectiveness via feedback from parents etc

(- we actively interpret the environment, creating constructs helping us anticipate the future)

– your personal construct system is your personality: how you construe the world >> behaviour

– healthy development results from development of an accurate system of constructs allowing them to see world flexibly

– psychological problems come from using unhelpful & invalid personal constructs

– therapy is helping clients be aware of faulty personal constructs & help change them

 


 

ALBERT ELLIS – RATIONAL-EMOTIVE BEHAVIOUR THERAPY (1976)

– we have a biological bent to think irrationally and rationally

– humans have 2 basic goals: to stay alive & to be happy

rational behaviour: that which helps people achieve their basic goals

irrational/dysfunctional behaviour: that which prevents people from achieving their basic goals

– psychological disturbances result from irrational thinking over rational

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PERCEPTION AND THE SUBJECTIVE WORLDVIEW

– we can interpret a situation in many different ways >> emotional response >> behaviour

– we have free-will to choose emotion & behaviour in certain situations

 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL

– child has innate ability to think rationally & irrationally, but so do their parents

– so we all have irrational tendencies, depending on our upbringing

– different developmental experiences(20%)+innate differences(80%)>>personality differences

 

THE BASIC MODEL OF RATIONAL-EMOTIVE BEHAVIOUR THERAPY

Activating event >> Belief system >> emotional & behavioural Consequences

– different personalities have different belief systems; mood etc can affect B&C

– unlike psychoanalysis, bad past is only important if you think about it now in the same way

Disputation: challenging client’s irrational/dysfunctional beliefs, replacing them with rational

 

EVALUATION OF COGNITIVE APPROACHES

DiGuiseppe et al (1979) – R – support for REBT as effective therapy [other studies also]

BUT Meehl (1981) – nothing to do with rationality; just swapping one set of values for more socially convenient set

– Kelly’s description of e.g. 11 corollaries unclear; Ellis is clear

– describe clear systems for how cognitions are structured & how perception >> behaviour

– theory strength in that we’re all seen as unique but operating in same framework

– virtually no well-designed experimental studies testing Kelly’s theory; Ellis yes

– both theories are easily testable (e.g. rep grid for measuring personal constructs)

– Kelly’s theory not very comprehensive & ignores external factors>>beh, focusing on internal

– Ellis more comprehensive & considers belief system, emotional state, genetics, cognitions

– Kelly doesn’t describe e.g. what’s involved in healthy personality development

– Ellis criticised for being too simplistic (replied that the wheel invention is simple!)