Basic Postulate

Personal construct theory is expressed in one fundamental postulate, or assumption, and elaborated by means of 11 supporting corollaries. The basic postulate assumes that "a person's processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which [that person] anticipates events" (Kelly, 1955, p. 46). In other words, people's behaviors (thoughts and actions) are directed by the way they see the future. This postulate is not intended as an absolute statement of truth but is a tentative assumption open to question and scientific testing.

Kelly (1955, 1970) clarified this fundamental assumption by defining its key terms. Fhst, the phrase person's processes refers to a living, changing, moving human being. Kelly was not concerned here with animals, with society, or with any part or function of the person. He did not recognize motives, needs, drives, or instincts as forces underlying motivation. Life itself accounts for ones movement.

Kelly chose the term channelized to suggest that people move with a direction through a network of pathways or channels. The network, however, is flexible, both facilitating and restricting people s range of action. In addition, the term avoids the implication that some sort of energy is bemg transformed into action. People are already hi movement; they merely channelize or dhect their processes toward some end or purpose.

The next key plnase is ways of anticipating events, winch suggests that people guide then actions accordhig to their predictions of the future. Neither the past nor the future per se determines our behavior. Rather, our present view of the future shapes our actions. Arlene did not buy a blue car because she had a blue bicycle when she was a child, although that fact may have helped her to construe the present so that she anticipated that her blue late-model car would be a reliable one hi the future. Kelly (1955) said that people are tantalized not by their past but by their view of the future. People continuously "reach out to the future through the window of the present" (p. 49).

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