PSYB30H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Cognitive Psychology, Interference Theory, Statistical Hypothesis Testing
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PSYB30 FINAL EXAM REVIEW
Prof. Livingston -- Winter 2009
PSYB30 (Personality Psychology) Final Exam Review Sheet
(1) The final exam is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 at 9:00 AM in the UTSC Gym.
You should bring your photo ID and some #2/HB pencils. No test aids are allowed, which
means that cell phones and other electronic communication devices are specifically prohibited.
(2) Not all of these questions can be answered if you study only the lecture slides. You will need
to be familiar with assigned textbook content, as well as in-class demonstrations, videos, etc.
Please be sure to have consulted each of those sources before requesting additional help.
Cognitive Theories and Personal Construct Psychology
•Be familiar with the major concepts of George Kelly’s Personal Construct Psychology.
“Cognitive revolution” of 1960s in response to the apparent passivity of behaviorist theories, mainly radical
behaviourirsm. Behavior is at least partly a function of attitudes, expectations, beliefs, values, etc as well as the
environment and/or heredity. The inclusion of attitudes, expectations, beliefs, values etc. is what makes his theory a
cognitive (in line with contemporary cognitive psychology). People actively navigate their social world. Cognitive
Psychologists believe that people have their own perception of the world. Everyone has a different lens through which they
perceive the world.
A frequent quote from Kelly to remember this concept: "If you want to know what people think, why not ask them? They
might just tell you.” His theory is very broad and malleable as it tries to identify various ideas/concepts rather than being
tied to one single concept. In his clinical psychologist setting, he used the Freudian approach but later said that he didn’t
personally believe in it. But, since it was helpful to people, he used it. In order to test this, he fabricated insights to see the
effects on his clients/patients (ethically disturbing). Kelly’s theory doesn’t have axioms or self-evident truths. He followed
a mathematical model where he creates a postulate and then a series of statements that follow from or help explain the first
statement. He made it clear that his theory wasn’t the best or correct way for looking at things.
Fundamental Postulate of Kelly’s theory:
“A person’s processes are psychologically channeled by the ways in which they anticipate events.” It means something
like: “The predictions we make about the world influence our thoughts and behaviours.”
1) Construction - People anticipate events by interpreting them (replicability and predictability).
2) Individuality - Each person constitutes events differently (this is what personality is for Kelly)
3) Organization - People develop an organized system of constructs (they are organized ordinally i.e. Ranked in
some way such as best to worst or 1st, 2nd, 3rd therefore some constructs are important than others)
4) Dichotomy - Constructs are of a bipolar nature (people use bipolar constructs such as good or evil. So, 2 ends in a
continuum. So, any one construct has 2 ends to them. The dichotomous form of our constructs provides the basis
for constructive alternativism. Riemann (1990) suggests that bipolarity is an important but not necessary aspect of
5) Choice - People choose from among alternatives the most useful constructs.
PSYB30 FINAL EXAM REVIEW
Prof. Livingston -- Winter 2009
6) Range - Each construct has a limited range or focus. Some people apply their constructs broadly, and others limit
their constructs to a narrow focus.
7) Experience - Constructs are changed in the light of experience (test the utility of the construct with reality to the
extent that whether or not they fit with reality. This in Kelly’s view can create anxiety)
8) Modulation - Constructs are open to change and alteration. Some constructs are more permeable than others.
9) Fragmentation - People may use constructs that seem to be incompatible. Such fragmentation is particularly apt
to occur either when a person’s constructs are impermeable and concrete or when they are undergoing change.
10) Communality - aka Similarity corollary. Communication is based on similar personal constructs
11)Sociability - Social interaction entails understanding constructs (it does not mean that we agree with them, we
have to understand them)
Constructs are bipolar where one is more accessible (emergent) and one is less accessible (implicit). A strong focus on
emergent pole may cause the implicit pole to submerge out of awareness.
1. Preverbal: ‘tip-of-the-tongue’- It doesn’t depend on developing language, in fact language just provides the
terminology/descriptors to the constructs. Automatic constructs.
2. Submerged: pole(s) not in consciousness - We may just focus on one end of the construct.
3. Suspended: retroactive interference - It means that if we have a memory of something but we don’t have a way to
describe it then it becomes suspended. If we have something that can’t be labeled, then it tends to be forgotten
(according to Kelly).
•What metaphor did Kelly use to describe the role and actions of the social perceiver? (Hint: “Person as ______”)
The person as a scientist: (This metaphor didn’t originate with Kelly and it didn’t end with him as it was a popular topic)
Kelly argued that people make sense of their social environment via hypothesis testing. Each person develops and uses
idiosyncratic cognitive categories for description. These are known as our “personal constructs.” Our personal constructs
(categories/descriptors) are updated as they are tested against reality where the useful constructs ideally disappear and the
more useful constructs gets strengthened and people tend to stay with these constructs. Example: we want to know
whether people are good or evil. The term is challenged as to whether you want to know that “people” are good or evil or
whether their “behaviour” is good or evil. At a younger age you see that this might be a more useful construct than in your
current age or some people might still hold onto these constructs after testing them. Behaviourists would say that an
individual’s life experiences could change their behaviour but Kelly argues that this change in behaviour comes from the
way we think about the world.
Personal construct – In Kelly’s theory, a hypothesis an individual forms in order to predict and control events, which
makes the world meaningful and which is tested by later experience.[Textbook definition]
•What is constructive alternativism? Give a real-world example of this philosophical position.
“Constructive alternativism” is a fancy way of saying that things can be interpreted differently i.e. in multiple ways
(particularly when we are talking about social events or events that can be ambiguous).
Constructive alternativism – In Kelly’s theory, the assumption that any one event is open to a variety of interpretations.
In effect, there is no reality outside our interpretations of it. Textbook example: Boy who was late for school (father may
think he is lazy, mother may think her son is forgetful and daydreams, teacher may think it is the student’s expression of
PSYB30 FINAL EXAM REVIEW
Prof. Livingston -- Winter 2009
his distaste and hostility toward academic work, best friend might see it as an accident, the boy himself sees it as an
indication of his inferiority and so on). Everyone interprets this information in a different manner based on their personal
way of thinking and also the information provided.
Kelly makes the case that people engage in ‘aggression’ i.e. in a sense of active pursuit or engagement of testing how good
their ideas are. No one construct is final and a perfect reflection of the world. There is always an alternative construct that
might do a better job of accounting for the facts that we perceive. Thus our position in the world is one of constructive
alternativism, as we change or revise our constructs in order to understand it more accurately. Thus a person is free to
change constructs in an effort to make sense out of, predict and control the world. This validation process is central to the
psychology of personal constructs.
•What is the purpose of the REP test? How does it work?
Role Construct Repertory (REP) test is an assessment tool but doesn’t give out scores as a result. This test is designed to
help a person identify themselves or a self-understanding exercise (similar to MBPI). There isn’t a correct answer with this
test, the goal is self-exploration. Not restricted to just people but also other things such as choices between things. Widely
used in industrial organization psychology. Essentially, the REP test permits a person to reveal constructs by comparing
and contrasting a number of significant persons in his or her life.
Look at Figure 15.1 for describing how REP test looks like.
•Be familiar with modern research on Kelly’s PCP, including criticisms of it.
It has also been used to explore the complexity of an individual’s construct system and changes in the construct system
throughout the lifespan. (Crockett, 1982)
Cognitive complexity – the ability to perceive differences in the way in which one construes other people. People who are
high in cognitive complexity are better able to predict what others will do and to relate with them.
Bannister and Fransella (1966) and Bannister and Salmon (1966) suggest that the REP test and Kelly’s constructs can help
us understand the disturbance of thought in schizophrenia. They conclude that the thought constructs of a schizophrenic
are less interrelated and more inconsistent than other people’s, particularly regarding interpersonal constructs.
Recent research has used the REP grid to assess values and beliefs (Horley, 1991) and to analyze content and structural
form in personality description (Donahue, 1994). Also, computer based analysis have been developed (Bringmann, 1992;
see also Ford & Adams-Webber, 1991).
The REP test has the potential to be a fruitful source of cross-cultural research.
Criticism of Kelly’s PCP:
His theory has been criticized as being atheoretical and therefore non-testable. There is some use in psychotherapy and
clinical work. Also useful for workplace applications.
•Overestimating the rationality of construct use among people? (Jerome Bruner)
–Implicates the “choice corollary”
–Kelly’s theory suggests that people use constructs that are sensible or rational i.e. that have predictive
value. Livingston thinks it is more of a challenge of constructs vs. reality.
•Are all constructs dichotomized?
•How does cognitive complexity develop across the lifespan?
Psyb30 (personality psychology) final exam review sheet (1) the final exam is scheduled for tuesday, april 28th, 2009 at 9:00 am in the utsc gym. You should bring your photo id and some #2/hb pencils. No test aids are allowed, which means that cell phones and other electronic communication devices are specifically prohibited. (2) not all of these questions can be answered if you study only the lecture slides. You will need to be familiar with assigned textbook content, as well as in-class demonstrations, videos, etc. Please be sure to have consulted each of those sources before requesting additional help. Cognitive theories and personal construct psychology: be familiar with the major concepts of george kelly"s personal construct psychology. Cognitive revolution of 1960s in response to the apparent passivity of behaviorist theories, mainly radical behaviourirsm. Behavior is at least partly a function of attitudes, expectations, beliefs, values, etc as well as the environment and/or heredity.