How extensively can a person's constructs be applied to new experiences? That is the question addressed by Kelly's (1955) Modulation Corollary:
The variation in a person's construction system is limited by the permeability of the constructs within whose ranges of convenience the variants lie. (p. 77)
A construct that can be applied to new elements is called a permeable construct:
A construct is permeable if it will admit to its range of convenience new elements which are not yet construed within its framework. (Kelly, 1955, p. 79)
For example, imagine that a person thinks of many people as "able to read my mind" and of others as "not able to read my mind." Among his friends and acquaintances, each is categorized as a mind reader or not. Now the person meets someone new. Will he or she apply the construct of "mind reader or not" to the new person? If so, the construct is permeable. Permeable constructs can be used to construe new experiences.
The opposite of a permeable construct is a concrete construct. It is part of a person's construct system, but it is not open to new elements. A person would have the mind reader construct as a concrete construct if he or she believed that there used to be mind readers in the past, but there are not any more. In contrast, a person who does not think of people as mind readers or not, even a closed set of people without the possibility of adding new ones, would not have this as a construct, not a concrete construct or any other kind. Another example of a concrete construct was suggested by George Kelly (1955, p. 1076): Most people regard the age of miracles as the past, even those who accept that miracles once occurred.
Kellian therapists sometimes deal with problematic constructs (or poles) by working with a client to make constructs more concrete, or impermeable, so that they, with their devastating effects, will not be applied to new experiences. Other types of construct system change—changes in the structure of construct systems—are also made during con-structivist therapy.
Was this article helpful?
It seems like you hear it all the time from nearly every one you know I'm SO stressed out!? Pressures abound in this world today. Those pressures cause stress and anxiety, and often we are ill-equipped to deal with those stressors that trigger anxiety and other feelings that can make us sick. Literally, sick.