By Kelly's definition, threat involves a comprehensive change in a person's core structures. Fear, on the other hand is more specific and incidental. Kelly (1955) illustrated the difference between threat and fear with the following example. A man may drive his car dangerously as the result of anger or exuberance. These impulses become threatening when the man realizes that he may run over a child or be arrested for reckless driving and end up as a criminal. In this case, a comprehensive portion of his personal constructs is threatened. However, if he is suddenly confronted with the probability of crashing his car, he will experience fear. Threat demands a comprehensive restructuring—fear, an incidental one. Psychological disturbance results when either threat or fear persistently prevents a person from feeling secure.
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