Cognitive Theories part 2
Personal Construct Psychology
• Constructs are bipolar (two-ended), one more accessible (‘emergent end of the pole’) and
one less accessible (‘implicit end of the pole’)
The more we focus on the emergent end, the more we drive the implicit end into our
– Strong focus on emergent pole may cause the implicit pole to submerge out of
Kelly doesn’t believe that constructs emerge out of language; rather, language is just the way we
learn to put terminology to constructs that already exist.
Ex babies can learn facial expressions, before they can speak.
Non-conscious constructs: (some of how we interpret the world, happens automatically)
1. Preverbal: ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ (trust, anxiety, these sort of things)
2. Submerged: pole(s) not in consciousness (One pole not in consciousness so we may
tend to focus on one end of a descriptor and not the other)
3. Suspended: retroactive interference (if we have a memeory of something and we don’t
have a way to describe it, it becomes suspended. “One remembers what is structured and
forgets what is unstructured.”
Do Role Construct Repertory (“REP”) Test http://tiger.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/
Can see which constructs you use most often, when comparing different people.
Challenges for Kelly’s PCP
• Overestimating the rationality of construct use among people? (Jerome Bruner)
– Implicates the “choice corollary”
Some people argue that Kelly’s theory assumes people use constructs that are sensible and
Why is that people stick with what they already know? Rather than testing new ideas may not
be rational, but comforting
Science is rational, but scientists are not. Scientists are people. • Are all constructs dichotomized?
Does every construct have an opposite? And if that’s the case can those constructs still be used to
• How does cognitive complexity develop across the lifespan?
Not based on testable axioms.
• Kelly’s PCP is still popular for clinical and workplace applications
• “Fixed-role therapy”: involves active identification and assumption of different cognitive
(But is it effective?)
Might hear of this as role-playing therapy. The idea here is for people to maybe get some
insight to the constructs that they use by adopting the perspective of another person. So
if somebody says “im having problems with my brother in law and we don’t see eye-to-
eye on how he treats her”. So you go “out yourself in your brother in laws shoes, and I
will play you as best as I can. Try to think how he would, and the constructs he uses. Try
thinking in a different way.”
Take perspective of another person
Albert Ellis and REBT
• Developed rational therapy (Called rational therapy, cuz it focused on rational thinking
rather than irrational thinking, wheras psychodyanmics focused on irrational thinking)
• He was criticized for ignoring the role of emotion in this.
• People thought it was a cognitive theory and not a emotional theory
So he changed the name
– Later rational-emotive therapy, then rational emotive behavioral therapy (or
• Involves identifying harmful/limiting beliefs, disputing them, and replacing them with
new beliefs that lead to better outcomes
Origins of his theory come from the fact that it’s not reality that makes a difference to people,
but their perception of reality that makes a difference. It’s how people think about the world that
drives their behavior.
Not optimistic or pessimistic theorist, he basically says that people have a tendency to do well
for themselves and bring about their potential. And people also have a tendency to undercut their own successes. He suggests that people are self-defeating, in part because, they focus on either-
or views of things, we create false dilemmas, we are either an absolute success or an absolute
failure. There is no gradation in between.
Ellis theory suggests a dynamic relationship between all these processes ( thinking, emotion and
Basis of this therapy (idea is that we are trying to resolve some dilemma the person is facing),
how this is done is by trying to identify the beliefs that are keeping people from succeeding or
making them view a harmless situation as harmful or threatening. We then dispute those beliefs,
and encourage the person to replace those irrational beliefs that lead to negative consequences
with more positive beliefs or more healthy beliefs that can lead to healthier outcomes.
For Ellis, cuz ppl communicate a lot by speaking, in some ways our emotion gets translated into
verbal thoughts and our thoughts are correlated with our emotion and these get caught up with
To Ellis, people have an innate orientation towards happiness, to seek out pleasure and avoid
pain. On the other hand, people also have irrational thoughts and dysfunctional behaviors and so
in that way we can sabotage our own potential. There are obstacles out there form other ppl and
stuff and worst thing is that we create obstacles to our own performance; sometimes without
even realizing it.
He says that a lot of these self-sabotaging tendencies come from the fact that we have a strong
need for affiliation and belongingness, and we tend to set up pretty high standards for ourselves,
in part becuz, we have high standards communicated to us by others. For example, your rents
had rules for how you behave, so your raised with a series of expectations. So we internalize
these, “so this is what we need to do, to become successful”.
We are often trying to impress others, we are trying to maintain the image of success. Success is
partially socially defined.
For Ellis, emotional disturbance comes from the beliefs that we have.
Activating events (adversity) and it leads to a consequence.
So this is a behaviorist view. (stimulus and a consequence)
But in Ellis’ view …..
Either the event directly changes beliefs or through the consequences changes the beliefs.
So it’s not the activating even that triggers the consequence, it’s the belief.
Consequence depends on the person’s beliefs. So we can try to change the person’s belief system. (so this is the key part, we need to
change the beliefs, that come to mind. Get people to introspect and examine truth value
of those beliefs.
For Ellis, problematic beliefs are absolutist beliefs, “I HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS”
Get people to dispute these beliefs. So ppl say “I must be successful in everything I do”
And you say “WHY, why must you be successful in everything? Where is the
expectation coming from?
And try to get ppl to come up with a more rational or permissive belief. Like “I WANT to
be successful in everything I do, but if I don’t, its ok”
Number of different techniques that get used in rational-emotive therapy
There is what’s called cognitive therapy, in this case, try to get people to focus on thoughts that
involve “I have to be this” and try to change those beliefs,
There is behavior therapy: try to get people to change their behavior (one ex is to get ppl to
deliberately fail at something, to show them it’s not the end of the world.
Then there is Emotion therapy : psychodrama: get ppl to role play create mini dramas, try to get
ppl to understand that other people have failures too, and that they are lovable even if they can’t
live up to the standards of other people.
Read over beck and lazarus , wont test much on lazarus except his idea on the “basic ID”
“behavior affect sensation” “imagery cognition” “interpersonal drugs and psychology”
Individual Differences in Cognition
“Personality difference pertaining to cognition”
• Extroverts (as compared to introverts) tend to be quicker at cognitive searches and report
more accurate memories
Extroverts remember more
• People who experience more intense emotional states t