Introduction

Over the years, a wide range of theories have come into existence to explain the psychological growth and development that takes place in individuals. The personal Construct theory is one of the most popular theoretical models that have been widely used to get an insight into the personalities of individuals. Individuals might seem like simple beings but in order to understand them better, it is necessary to understand their psychological makeup that influences theirpersonality and individuality (Verywellmind.com, 2018). A number of elements have been captured relating to the Personal Construct Theory including the concept, the significance of self, the social philosophy and the values. In order to get a detailed insight into the theoretical framework, Kelly’s popular publication titled “The Psychology of Personal Constructs” has been used as the core foundation. The thesis throws light on non-grid based methods and particular grid based methods that can be used for understanding the mental construct of a person. The Repertory Grid technique has specifically been used here to assess the relationship between cognitive aspects and the construction of self and others. The aim of this thesis is to investigate correlations between the theoretical understanding of the self if the Personal Construct Theory and the influence on the severity of depressionm anxiety and stress.

1.Personal Construct Theory

George Kelly is the renowned psychologist who had proposed the personal construct psychology. According to the Personal Construct Theory, the human activity is considered to be a ‘meaning creating’ process. In other words, it can be said that the way in which human beings behave is dependent on the manner in which they construct events or occurrences and allocate meaning to them (Feixas&Saúl, 2004).In simple language, the personal construct psychology states that an individual’s personality is made up of numerous mental constructs that help an individual to perceive and make sense of the reality around them. The theoretical model fundamentally investigates the manner in which individuals are able to construct meanings. Theorientation is towards the ‘future ‘and Kelly has specifically stressed on the individuals and the events (Feixas&Saúl, 2004).

When the personal construct theory first came into existence, it challenged the psychological models that existed at the time. In fact, Kelly had introduced the theory with the intention to present alternatives to the main theoretical concepts that existed at the time namely the Behaviourism theory and the Psychodynamic theory (What is Personal Construct Psychology, 2018). In the former times, psychologistsand theorists always looked at everything as the ‘subject’ instead of considering them as ‘someone’ who was trying to understand events that were taking place. But the work of George Kelly was different as he stressed on the need to change the way in which science is viewed and applied on human beings. Thus the approach of Kelly to design the Personal Construct Theory was regarded to be new and even today it is considered tobe a unique approach in the psychology discipline (What is Personal Construct Psychology, 2018).

The premise of Kelly’s personal construct psychology is considered to be straightforward and also radical in a number of ways. The psychologist has clearly stated that human beings do not know the world in the direct sense but they are able to know it through a series of personal constructs (What is Personal Construct Psychology, 2018). These personal constructs are created by the people themselves.

In order to inquire on the theory, Kelly has also devised the repertory grids. This technique can be used for the purpose of revealing the personal constructs of people tothe researcher. As per a number of research articles such as by Helen Walker, the repertory grid was used to detect or explore any kind of mental disorder that a person could be suffering from(Walker et al., 2012).

But in the recent times, it has been used for a number of purposes. The interviewing technique analyses nonparametric aspects in order to ascertain the graphic measure of an individual’s personalityand mental constructs(Alexander et al., 2010).This technique has been used in order to get a better insight into Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory.

 

  • Meaningof Personal Construct

The personal constructs can be defined as the distinctions that are drawn from different experiences. They are hence included in the constructionsystems for the purpose of anticipating the future events. According to GuillemFeixas and Luis Angel Saul, the constructions are not isolated units but they are linked to with others due to implication lines. These implication lines ultimately give rise to complex systems of meaning (Feixas&Saúl, 2004).

According to George Kelly, the constructs fundamentally makeup of an idea and it is perceived opposite. In order to understand the statement, he has used the simple example that what might make an individual ‘happy’ might not make another individual ‘happy’. Thus it basically depends on how individuals construct the opposite. In layman’s language, the term construct has been said to be a jargon that is embedded in various aspects of Kelly’s theoretical model. It is a vital unit of the personal construct theory that is regarded to be measured in a form of the repertory grid.According to Personal Construct Methodology by Viney, Walker and Crittenden, it is regarded to be the specific point through which one can get a better understanding of the various kinds of events that revolve around human beings(Balnaves&Caputi, 2001).

In order to understand the exact meaning of ‘personal construct’, Fay Fransella in the book on the Personal Construct Psychology has pointed out ten of the most crucial features that make up a construct. According to him, the ‘construct’ can be described to be an abstraction in which human beings make sense of events and occurrences. The abstract varies from individual to individual as different people arrive at different meanings of events. Thus constructs have been said to be personal elements that come into existence due to the imposition of the individual meanings on the ‘world’ (Feixas&Saúl, 2004). According to Kelly’s model, constructs are considered to be bipolar in nature. In simpler words, it is the manner in which differentiation between events, individuals and things take place.It basically comprises of two poles. The constructs have been referred to as the pathway of movements.

Every construct has a pair of sides which are opposing in nature. The polarity feature of constructs can be understood by refereeing to examples such as good and bad, friendly and unfriendly and stable and evolving. The constructs are linked to the fellow constructs. It would be wrong to say that constructs exist alone as a distinct entity. It is associated with the hierarchical structure which plays a key role to influence a person to observe and experience the surrounding world. This aspect of the construct is used for the purpose of understanding the relative significance of issues (Winter & Reed, 2015, p 33). The constructs can be used at various layers of awareness. Sometimes people might not like a stranger even before realizing the reason for it. Thus constructs even function at the nonverbal level of awareness and influence the behaviour of individuals. In simple words, it can be stated that irrespective of the level of awareness in which the constructsfunction to get a better idea of the world, they have a vital implication on an individual’s behaviour (Winter & Reed, 2015).

Fay Fransella has highlighted a crucial feature of constructs i.e. it acts as the basis for prediction and anticipation. When individuals intend to interpret a specific situation, they are basically making predictions about what is likely to happen next. As per the theory that has been proposed by George Kelly in his book, “The Psychology of Personal Constructs”, an individual’s processes are psychologically directed by the manner in which they anticipate the events and occurrences.The anticipation process is carried out by constructing the replications. Individuals fundamentally take the cue of an event is being repeated and try to anticipate or predict the future events. The role of constructs is extremely important as it is a way of controlling the world (Winter & Reed, 2015). As per Kelly, the better manner in which individuals are able to predict the world, the better degree of control they have over it. Hence, the personal constructs act as the channels in which person’s mental processes functions and runs. The constructs cannot be separatedfrom an individual’s behaviour. This is because; the behaviour is the result of how human beings test the predictionsthat are the result of constructs.

The behaviour that is exhibited by a person has been termed as the experiment that is carried out for the purpose of testing out the rationality of the construing that is put to test. The constructs are also inseparable from the feelings of an individual. Different kinds of emotions are experiencedby people which are the result of the constructs. They could radically change during the course of time (Winter & Reed, 2015, p 35). The role of constructs is extremely significant in an individual’s life because these elements form the very basis of the choices that people make. As per the Personal Construct Theory, individuals have a certain degree of freedom in their lives. For instance, human beings are free to make choices relating to whether they consider themselves to be reliableindividuals or unreliable ones. In fact, the ‘Choice Corollary’ gives the personal construct theory the underlying motivational aspect (Winter & Reed, 2015, p 39). These features are the core elements that give shape to the personal construct of an individual and influence their behaviour in the process.

It can be stated that the manner in which human beings experience the world is related to the series of their personal construct that have come into existence to get a better sense of the world. The Personal constructs govern the behaviour and feelings of an individual. They lay a key role in the Personal Construct Theory that has been constructed by George Kelly. The constructs are the manner in which people experience their very beings (Winter & Reed, 2015, p 38).

  • The Self in the Personal Construct Theory

In order to get into the crux of the Personal Construct Psychology,it is necessary to understand the ‘self’.The popularity of the theoretical framework has had implications on therelationships that exist between personal constructs, the construction of self, the social relationshipsand emotions. The journal titled “The Elaboration of Personal Construct Psychology” by Beverly M Walter and David A Winter captures how the ‘self’ plays a key role in the personal constructtheoretical framework (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 1).

The unitary notion relating to ‘self’ that was previously considered to be the main essence of an individual has been rejected by George Kelly. Due to the unique views and elements that have been incorporated by Kelly in the Personal Construct Theory, his views have been considered to be ahead of his times. Kelly has stated that the ‘self’ is a pole of the personal construct which is basically constructed. He has stressed on the relevance of self in the theoretical framework and stated that the construction of the ‘self’ takes place in comparison with that of others. Additionally, he has stated in his book that the sense of self is constructed by the understanding of others’ points of view about us(Thomas et al., 2011).

It depends on individuals whether theywant totake a lenient stance or a critical stance for the purpose of gaining a better knowledge of self. A wide range of research studies have further been carried out that shed light on various forms ofself,such as the self, the ideal self, and the self as others view an individual. These kinds of self-constructs are predictive of the self-esteem of individuals (Walker & Winter, 2007). Thus the significance of self in the Personal Construct Theory has given rise to the debate on perspectives of different kinds of selves. It is necessary to understand thefact that the ways in which human beings see themselves as ‘selves’ depend on the specific interpersonal construct.

According to the ‘multiple self-awareness’ group, every individual is supposed to select one of his or her selves so that it can be a part of the joint venture with the other participant’s chosen self (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 4). This form of interaction is regarded to be a powerful instrument that can be used for the purpose of getting a better insight into others. This robust tool can be used to understand the reactions that are exhibited by others to specific roles (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 5).

As per the journal by David S Miall, the emotion of an individual plays an important role to influence a self. In the work, the author has stressed upon the emotions that come into play and have amajor impact on a wide range of self-concept processes (Miall, 1989). Similarly, in the journal by Thomas et al, they have focused on the ‘self’ component of the personal construct theory (Thomas et al., 2011). They have stated that sometimes people or the subjects might rate the ‘self now’ and the ‘ideal self’ that exist at the different ends of the construct pole. The self is very critical for every individual including the young adolescents toan older individual. In fact, the construct of the self by an individual has a direct implication on his very health condition and overallwell-being. The research study by Samantha Thomas and Richard Butler emphasizes on the construct of self to understand how the individuals with some form of learning disabilityview themselves. Thus this component of the personal construct theory has been used in a wide range of research studies to get a clear understanding of thevarious dimensionsrelating to self. The self is an important element of the personal construct psychology but there is definitely much more to it that must be explored in order to get a complete picture of Kelly’s psychological framework.

1.3 Implicative Dilemmas as a way to tap internal conflicts

According to the research article by Franz Casper and GuilleFeixas, the term ‘implicative dilemma’ can be defined as a specific type of the cognitive conflict in which the negative perception or self-views are linked with the positive elements of an individual’s identity(Montesano et al., 2017). A number of research studies have been carried out which indicate that the implicative dilemmas (IDs) are highly prevalent in depressed individuals as compared to the healthy individuals. It is necessary to get a clear understanding of IDs so that the internal conflicts that arise in depressed people can be captured and their negative views about themselves can be understood.The notion of the implicative dilemma is taken from the personal construct theory(Montesano et al., 2017). It is said to be a particular kind of conflict that arises between 2 opposing parts of the self.

 

  • Personal Construct Theory as a Social Philosophy

Even though the personal construct theory has been classified as a personality theory, it is also used as a social psychology. In fact, numerous scholars have considered the Personal Construct Theory to be a learning theory, a behaviouristic theory, an emotional theory, a social theory and a psychoanalytical theory(Sharma, Winter & McCarthy,  2013).

In order to get a complete picture of the personal construct theory, it is necessary to keep in mind that the model can be used in gain a better insight not only into individuals but also into different social groups. In the theory that has been proposed by George Kelly, there are a number of instances where one might come across the person-in relation concept. This indicates that the theory also gives some kind of significanceto the ‘sociality’ and ‘commonality’ factors. The individuals are sometimes seen as the validating agents that have been used for the purpose of testing dependency and constructions(Sharma, Winter & McCarthy,  2013).

The system in which human beings exist and functionplays a key role to influence their psychological makeup. For instance, George Kelly’sapproach relating to the selection of alternatives that exist in the system can be implemented in the friendship situations and partner selections. Duck has stated that when individuals are busy assembling the relevant validation of their worldview, they also seek the ones that have similar constructs (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 5). Thus the personal relationships and rapports that individuals are able to establish are majorly influenced by the sharing of the constructs and the specific kind of shared construing. It varies depending on the process of the friendshipand the growth of the friendship. The Personal Construct Theory extends much more than an individual. In fact, it can be adopted in the social setting in order to get a better insight into different types of social groups and relations.

Over the years, a wide range of researchers have used the personal construct theory to investigate a number of social settings that have an implication on the constructs of individuals.There is a crucial element in the theoretical framework of Kelly that stresseson the social process (Kelly, 2003, p 14). The extent to which an individual interprets the construction process of another individual plays a critical role in the overall social process. The social corollary of the personal construct psychology (PCP) sheds light on the social factor and its influence on the psychological makeup of a human being. Kelly has stated that the personal relationships that are established by individuals are influenced by the factors that exist in the social context (Kelly, 2003).

The personal construct theory can be treated as a social psychology bytaking simple social examples such as marriage or friendship or professional association. For instance, the selection of the marriage partner could be viewed as a major decision that is taken for the purpose of elaborating different aspects of construing relative to other people. The marriages fundamentally involve the creation and development of numerous ‘construct subsystems’ (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 5). These elements act as a key form of the intimate bond and colleagueship between the two human beings who intend to establish an enduring collaboration with one another throughout their lifetime. In the successful marriages where the life partners are content with each other, it is believed that they make the similar use of constructs. Similarly, the disordered marriage relationships can also be viewed from the personal construct psychology (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 6). The negative association between life partners fundamentally means that one of the spouses embodies his or her partner’s non-preferredconstruct poles.

Kelly has designed the personal construct psychology in such a manner so that the various elements that exist within the cultural and subculture matrix can be understood in a simple way. The details on the systems and sub-systems throw light on one of the most significant elaborations i.e. the ‘family construct system’ (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 5). When the personal construct theory is implemented inthe family context, it can be stated that the members of the family have the shared and distinctive ways of viewing and making sense of the world around them. The family’s distinctive system structure can be seen in order to understand how they view their lives, take their decisions, justify the action sandgovern their interactions and engagements. As per George Kelly, the individuals with comparativelyundispersed dependency have a limited number of constructs about dependency as compared to the individuals who have dispersed dependencies (Kelly, 2003).

Vivien Burr’s work on social constructionism along with Kelly’s theory has gained high popularity in the social psychology discipline. There exist a number of similarities in both of their work. Kelly has emphasized on the fact that every individual develops a series of dimensions relating to the meaningwhich has been termed as constructs (Social constructionism (2nd edition), 2018).He has perceived the world in terms of the various constructs that have been presented in the theoretical model. It is necessary to understand how the personal construct theory can be used in order to gain insight into the psychological framework of human beings.

  • Values from the Constructivist Perspective

The Personal Construct Theory considers people to be the adventurers who have the potential to push the individual boundaries of their lives when they experiment with the alternative interpretations of the evolving world. The constructs of people play a key role as they determine the way in which people perceive the world around them and respond to situations. It states that the humans are able to grow and develop due to the constructs that help them to construct and frame their experiences in their life(Trauer, 1987).

The constructivist approach was mainly designed so that it could be applied to the educational setting but it is of high significanceas it also sheds light on the learning and overall experience of individuals in different kinds of social settings (Walker & Winter, 2007, p 1).

According to the research study by Adela Antlova and Stefan Chudy, the values in the constructive theory play a vital role as they shape the behaviour of an individual. Value is the central element of the philosophy, sociology and psychology(Antlová et al., 2015). As per Prudky, value is acomponent that is connected with attitude of individuals. But there is a high degree of duration and objectivity when it comes to the values of individuals. Values are directly related to the mental cognition process of individuals such as cognition, emotions or learning. It can influence the way in which individuals respond and react to situations.

2 Assessment of Personal Constructs

The psychology relating to personal constructs is extremely vital as it throws light on the how ‘man’ acts the way he does in the normal setting. According to George Kelly, the very reason for introducing the personal construct psychological framework is to capture the personal adventure of mankind. Humans are able to construct the very meaning of their own lives by conceiving, testing, and continuously revising the personal theoretical models that assist to make a proper sense of the world around them (Caputi et al., 2011, p 2). The personal theories have been termed as the construct systems which are made up of a large number of ‘personal constructs’. They play a significant role and help individuals to differentiate, integrate and predict the future life events (Caputi et al., 2011, p 3).

The personal constructs could be widely shared or they could be highly distinctive in nature. There are occasions when the personal constructs could significantly vary in terms of how critical they are in constructing the life of people. George Kelly has highlighted the constructivist alternativism and said that there are almost countless probable constructions relating to reality (Caputi et al., 2011, p 3). In simpler words, it can be said that the various events or happenings that take place are subject to a wide range of constructions that can be made by man. The assessment of personal constructs reveals that each of the individuals has the capability to distinctly interpret or construct his or her personal world.

A number of techniques have been introduced for the purpose of assessing and evaluating. The personal construct methodology has been introduced for the purpose of identifying exploring the personal narratives and constructions of people’s experiences. The non-grid based methods and grid based methods have been introduced in order to assess how individuals make the sense of the external setting. The constructivist assessment techniques that have been introduced and can be effectively used to assess personal constructs of human beings are implication grids, repertory grids, self-characterizations approach, resistance to change grids and various other models that mainly emphasize on the conducting the evaluation of personal meaning (Caputi et al., 2011,p 4). The personal construct models that have come into existence play a vital role to get a better insight into how human beings make the sense of the world around them. Both the non-grid based methods and grid based methods help to yield a holistic view of a respondent’s meaning of life.

 

 

2.1 Non-grid based methods

In order to get a better understanding of the personal construct psychology, the non-grid based methods and the grid based methods have been introduced. The objective is to study human beings and capture their psychological approach to things around them. The laddering interview technique was introduced that could help a researcher to locate the subconscious motives of an individual (Caputi et al., 2011, p 4). It could be used for the purpose of evoking the core values of a human being. Similarly, the self-characterization technique has also been introduced by Kelly that can be used for the purpose of capturing the psychological makeup of a person.

In the work of Kelly, stress has been laid on both the non-grid based methods and new grid-based models that can be introduced in both the clinical and non-clinical disciplines. One of the most popular grid based methods namely the ‘repertory grid interview’ model has been explored as well. Kelly made sure to use repertory grid technique followed by an interview or conversation (Rossi & Hooper, 2001). This was done with the intention to explore the emerging vision of the individuals on any specific topic. Thus the interview process without the grid based method would be insufficient to get a better insight into the beliefs and response of people to specific situations.

2.2 Grid based methods

In this study, the repertory grid technique has been used for the purpose of evaluating the relationship between cognitive aspects and the construction of self and others. The repertory grid is one of the most vital grid based methods that has been used to assess the psychological conditions including depression, anxiety and stress levels that affect a significant number of individuals in the current times. Over the years, a wide range of psychologists and researchers have laid emphasis on the technique (Caputi et al., 2011, p 4). This tool plays a critical role to analyse and assess how human beings view individuals as well as occurrences in their social setting. The techniques introduced to assess the personal construct of a person are of immense value as they shed light on the psychological makeup of individuals.

The grid-based techniques that have been introduced by Kelly are not only restricted to investigating the ‘construct and element linkage’. But these set of tools have been designed to capture a number of latent elements that come into play and influence a person’s perspective. For example, the dependency grid that has come into existence helps to explore the types of resources that human beings use to react and respond to different kinds of circumstances that they come across.

Repertory Grid

The repertory grid technique is a vital variation of George Kelly’s ‘Role Construct Repertory Test’. In simple language, this model can be defined as the structured interview model that basically allows the interviewer to get a glimpse of the world through the lens of the interviewee’s construction model. It is the most well known and widely used tool that was introduced by Kelly for the purpose of exploring the association that exists between a set of elements and a series of dimensions or constructs that are created to make the sense of the external setting. This technique has been introduced to assess the structure and content of the structure system (Caputi et al., 2011, p 5). In layman’s language, this model can be defined to be structured interview process that helps the explorer to the investigator to view the constructing process of a person that moulds his behaviour to respond to life as a whole. In the very original form of the model, it was designed to evaluate the content and the structure relating to a person’s repertory of the role constructs. Kelly had developed it so that it could effectively capture the network of interconnectedness which influences the relationship of an individual with another.

The tool fundamentally consists of evoking from the respondents a number of elements. In other words, these elements are the various aspects of their experience. They then rate the list of captured components by taking the help of different constructs. In the repertory grid, some of the common elements that are captured by the researchers include different individuals, different aspects of a person’s self, the relationship of an individual at different points in time. Generally, while using this grid-based tool, the respondents are asked to give the name of the people who fit specific role titles. The roles could be that of a mother, a partner, or the person whom one dislikes. After capturing this information, the clinician will evoke a series of constructs. They are designed by asking the people in which way two elements are similar in nature and different from the third one. Then he tries to elicit the contrast pole of the construct. For instance, if a person is asked about the triad including husband, father and himself, he would likely say that “my father and husband are orthodox in nature whereas I am modern”. In this case, the fundamental dimensions that have been captured are orthodox and modern.  This dimension would be regarded to be one of the most crucial constructs or themes that the individual utilizes for the purpose of organizing, interpreting and approaching his social world. This is the very procedure that is used by clinicians while using the repertory grid. The difference is that in the net stage a separate set of triads are used to get an insight into the perspective of the client. He then designs the grid in order to meet the specific requirements of the particular situation. He can use the grid size as per the specific necessities but generally, the 12 constructs by 12 elements are used n the clinical context (Caputi et al., 2011, p 20).

The repertory grid has gained high popularity as it can be used by the clinicians to get access to graphical representations relating to the construction model of the client. This tool is used to answer the questions such as what are the main dimensions of the client’s construction model or how does the construction of the “self” take place. The results that are arrived at by using the repertory grid technique can be interpreted in two fundamental ways firstly by emphasizing on the content and by focusing on the construct of the client’s construction (Caputi et al., 2011, p 19). When the former approach is implemented, the grids are evaluated in a qualitative manner. In this approach, the distinct constructs relating to specific constructs on the repertory grid and the idiographic interpretation of the particular constructs are taken into consideration. The construction could be coded by making the use of a system designed to assess them by category. The repertory grids can be evaluated at the structural level by focusing on the particular associations and relationships between the construct and the specific elements.

3 Clinical Applications

Over the years, a wide number of research studies have been carried out to understand how the repertory grid technique can be used in the clinical setting to get a glimpse into the mental construct of human beings. According to the article by Antony Ryle titled “Clinical applications of repertory grid techniques”, the repertory grid has gained popularity among psychologists. This is because this tool helps to carry out a semi-quantitative evaluation of the psychological functions of human beings (Ryle, 1979). There are a number of areas in neuroscience where only the semi-quantitative approach can be implemented. So the grid based model is employed in numerous kinds of psychiatric studies.

A wide range of factors come into play and affect the mental health and well being of an individual. Some of the most common mental health issues that people suffer from in the current times include depression, anxiety disorder and stress. Here the grid-based technique has been used to understand the mental construct of people suffering from such psychological conditions.

3.1 Depression

A depressive disorder is a serious illness that affects the thoughts, mood and overall health of an individual. It acts as a major barrier that interferes with the day-to-day functioning of an individual and his overall quality of life. This psychological condition must not be treated just as a mere passing phase. But it is necessary to identify the root cause of the condition so that the mental construct of a depressed individual can be understood in a better way. In order to explore this sensitive field, the repertory grid can be used as a vital tool to understand how the affected person views his social worlds and the other elements that exist in it. The study by Sachdev shows that the repertory grid can be used for the purpose of capturing the psychological model of a depressed patient. Similarly, the research by Axford shows that the grid can act as a key tool for understanding how a depressed individual feels about his self-esteem(Sachdev, Chawla & Rao, 1982).

According to the research study by M Hewstone and D Hooper, a depressed individual undergoes a wide range of psychological changes which influences his ultimate outlook (Hewstone, Hooper & Miller, 1981). In order to capture the core aspects of the changes, the personal construct psychology and the repertory grid approach can be adopted. This technique can help to capture the areas that undergo the change or alteration (Hewstone, Hooper & Miller, 1981). In the research study, the authors have stated that a depressed individual has a number of characteristics such as low self-confidence, a negative perception relating to his or her social setting and the other negative thoughts.

Sachdev and Chawla have stated that a depressed individual’s thinking is very different as compared to the thinking process of a normal individual who does not face any psychological issues.  The affected person has exaggerated way of viewing himself or herself and the events that take place in the social setting. It is common for the patient to showcase a pervasive negative emotion or bias against himself. This kind of behaviour remains in spite of the positive feedback that is given to him(Sachdev, Chawla & Rao, 1982).

In order to get an insight into the complex and cognitive process that takes place in a depressed individual, the repertory grid model acts as an appropriate technique. This is because it helps to tap such cognitive processes of the person by using mathematical concepts and terms. Just like a structured interview technique, the grid-based model basically helps to get a great deal of accurate information relating to the mental construct of the patient. In the study, the model has been used to assess the mental construct of a patient who shows the symptoms such as the lack of interest, tension, sadness, and sleep-related disturbance. In the former times, she had experienced three episodes of depression which had lasted for about six to ten months. It was expected that she would show up in the grid as an individual who was feeling isolated. The main elements that were plotted in the construction space of the grid include the ‘self’ and the ‘the type of person she would like to be’ (Sachdev, Chawla & Rao, 1982, p 1).

As per the research study by Sachdev, the repertory grid  can act as a useful structured interview model that can help psychologists to map and analyse the construct system of a person(Sachdev, Chawla & Rao, 1982). The analysis can help them to get an insight of the perspective of the depressed patient. In the case of the specific patient who was being observed, it was observed that the stress factors did not play a key role and instigate her depressive episodes. She had developed a negative perspective of everything around her and this affected the way she looked at things around her. It was expected that she would show up as an individual who was feeling isolatd on the grid. But as per the outcome, it was seen that her self-esteem was low but she was not entirely hopeless in life.

Various other research studies have been carried out where the researchers have used the repertory grid model in order to capture the perception of the depressed people relating to the level of self-esteem and how they feel about themselves. In the research study by Joanna Blundell and Anja Wittkowski, the team has gone to the extra length and used the repertory grid technique to explore the overall attitude of the psychiatric nursing professionals towards the mothers who are suffering from psychological health conditions (Axford&Jerrom, 1986). The grid model helped to understand that all the nursing staff had a critical view about the mothers with poor mental health. It was due to the behaviour that was exhibited by the depressed mothers. The patients who had personality disorder were construed as being the farthest from the ‘self’. They were seen in negative light as compared to the mothers who exhibited the signs of psychosis or depression (Blundell et al., 2012, p 1). The results of the study show that the individuals who are depressed see themselves in a negative light which adversely affects their self-esteem and confidence(Sachdev, Chawla & Rao, 1982).

As there is a direct and significant presence of Implicative Dilemmas when it comes to the depressed patients, it can be used as a vital element to help the patients deal with the situation. According to the research by Stefanie I Badzinski, the proper identification of implicative dilemmas is necessary to find the correlation that exists between the two poles of the personal constructs of an individual(Dorough, Grice & Parker, 2007). By capturing these elements, the depressed people can be given help so that their perception of themselves can be improved.

3.2 Anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety disorder involves much more than temporary fear or nervousness. Some of the main symptoms an anxiety disorder include the restless feeling, feeling fatigued, difficulty in concentrating on the task in hand, irritable behaviour, muscle tension, sleep-related issues and challenges to manage the feeling of worry and nervousness. NIMH has stated that the anxiety disorders include panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. It is necessary to use the appropriate tools and techniques to gain insight into the mental construct of the anxious individuals so that they can be given appropriate treatment and medication.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the anxiety disorder is prevalent all around the globe. In fact, this psychological disorder has been identified as the sixth largest reason for the non-fatal health-related loss that takes place in the global setting (World Health Organization, 2017, p 16).

A wide range of researchers and psychologists have used the repertory grid technique in order to capture the psychological construct of individuals who suffer from different forms of anxiety disorder. In the research study by Abe Hitomi and Imai Shouji, the group of researchers have used George Kelly’s personal construct theory and the repertory grid model to assess the mental health of eighteen university students who have been suffering from mental anxiety disorder (Hitomi, Shouji& NEDATE, 2013). The study has helped to identify the pattern relating to the personal constructs of these individuals. The tool helped to get an insight into the personal constructs of the individuals by taking into account the perspective of the interaction between them and their environmental setting. The tool helped to capture the common psychological traits that existed in the students suffering from the mental condition (Hitomi, Shouji& NEDATE, 2013).

The outcome of the study indicates that the grid model helps to get an insight of the mental vulnerability of the people suffering from anxiety(Hitomi, Shouji& NEDATE, 2013). The results of the study revealed some of the core aspects and construct features pertaining to the socially anxious people. The scores in the repertory grid show that the people who are anxious have a different attitude, assessment criteria as compared to the normal people.

Paget and Ellett have used the repertory grid for the purpose of capturing the relationship that exists between the ‘self’ and others that suffer from anxiety disorder. Similarly, the grid-based tool has been used by A C Parrott and R Kentridge to understand the personal constructs of anxiety (Paget &Ellett, 2014). In this study, a total of twenty individuals were divided into two categories namely the high trait-anxiety group and the low trait-anxiety group. The anxiety level of the individuals was carefully measured after they were given medication to treat their condition (Parrott &Kentridge, 1982,p 3). The grid model helped to identify that eight of the ten respondents who existed in the high trait-anxiety group had decreased level of the personal construct anxiety. Nine out of the ten individuals who existed in the low trait-anxiety group showcased an increased level of the personal construct anxiety in them (Parrott &Kentridge, 1982, p 1).

The implicative dilemmas or internal conflicts can be seen in the people who have the anxiety disorder. According to the research study by Saul and Feixas, the implicative dilemmasexist in one-third of the non-clinical samples and in almost half of the clinical group members(Feixas&Saúl, 2004). The conflicts adversely affect the mental health and well-being of anxious individuals and thus results in the scores in anxiety.

3.3 Stress

Despite feeling stressed and worried due to various reasons like hectic times, stress can take the form of a serious mental condition that can have an adverse implication on the overall health condition and well-being of a person. In the medical context, the term ‘stress’ can be defined as a mental, emotional or physical tension which could arise due to external factors or internal factors. The mental stress of a person needs to be treated ion priority otherwise it could adversely affect the mental health and overall well-being of a person (Parrott &Kentridge, 1982).

For the purpose of gaining a better insight into the psychological stress that individuals go through, George Kelly’s personal construct psychology and the repertory grid model have been used by researchers. The objective is to look at the world and the social environment how the people suffering from stress and tension perceive their environmental setting. According to the journal by O B Walter and M Schmidth, the grid-based model can help to get a deeper and insightful understanding of stress as a phenomenon (Walter et al., 2004). George Kelly’s research model was used in order to assess the individual stress concepts. It took various situations into consideration include the private life and the professional life of the respondents. The results showed that the main situations that led to the increase in the overall stress level of the individuals include the instances of illness in the family setting, the conflicting situations that arise in the family environment and the illness or death of a family member. The stress grid that was ultimately arrived,would help to construct the suitable treatment for the stressed individuals. Thus the use of the repertory grid technique to evaluate the personal construct of stressed individuals can be useful from the diagnosis and treatment perspective (Walter et al., 2004).

According to the research study by Corso, the repertory grid can be used to capture the work-related stress that is suffered by individuals. There exists a major difference between the real-self and the ideal-self, as per the assessment by the Repertory Grid. Due to the presence of stress, the mental instability arises due to the rise in the implicative dilemmas and conflicts(Dal et al., 2013).

According to the journal by Walter et al the personal construct approach can be furthermore used for the improved level of knowledge of the stress that mothers face after their children are diagnosed with Autism. The study throws light on the various delineate factors that come into the picture and influence the mental make-up of the parents (Walter et al., 2004). The level of the stress that the parents of the autistic children experience is influenced by a wide range of factors including their construal or beliefs about the autistic child. There are occasions when the parents constrict the interaction environment of the child to safeguard him or her from the harsh reality. The other changes that take place in parents whose child has been diagnosed with autism include the lack of interest in other aspects of their life. Thus the grid-based model helps to identify the unique approaches that are used by them to deal with the stress in the family environment.

The personal construct theory by Kelly and the repertory grid approach has gained popularity among researchers and psychologists as it helps them to keep their individual perspective aide and gain an insight into the perspective of others. It has helped to capture how the people with different kinds of mental disorder view the external world and respond to different situations.

Research Questions & Hypotheses

This cross-sectional study that has been designed analyseshow the Repertory scale can be used to capture the mental health condition of the individuals who are suffering from depression, anxiety or stress. The various hypothesis that have been designed here to understand how the repertory grid can be used include the direct connection between the severe DASS score and the higher Self-idea discrepancy, the connection between the severe DASS score and the higher proportion of implicative dilemmas, the association of severe depression with a high polarization and the link between severe anxiety with a high ‘in definition’ scores relating to the personal constructs of individuals.

The combination of research findings and founded theories of the Personal Construct Theory assessed by the Repertory Grid and its application to depression, anxiety and stress the following we have predicted:

Hypothesis 1 (H1): The severity of DASS scores will be directly associated with a higher Self-idea discrepancy.

Hypothesis 2 (H2): The severity of DASS scores will be directly related to a higher proportion of implicative dilemmas.

Hypothesis 3 (H3):The severity of depression will be (directly) associated with a high polarisation.

Hypothesis 4 (H4): The severity of anxiety will be (directly) associated with a high indefinition scores of the personal constructs.

 

Methods

  1. Research design

To test the hypotheses, this cross-sectional, observational study used data of the first inclusion measurement of a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). This trail is titled “……………….” (……………………) and is being conducted at the Universitat de Barcelona. The correlation study examines the relationship between high discrepancies between the real self and the ideal self and the severity of depression, anxiety and stress within a sample of adult patients with moderate to severe depressive symptoms. The study began in …………..and to date new participants have been enrolled on an ongoing basis.  were included. Only data from the initial assessment were used before patients were enrolled or excluded.

3.1 Participants

The sample size in this study contains of One-hundred and sixty-five adult participants from different primary care centers of the city of Barcelona. These participants received psychotherapy in the context of an internship agreement between the University of Barcelona and the Catalan government, earmarked for students of the Master of Cognitive Social Therapy. The latter is a three-year training program that prepares students to do psychotherapy following the models of cognitive-constructivist psychotherapies and systemic family therapy. Participants were referred by their primary care physicians and all participants received an initial assessment before the start of the treatment. Exclusion criteria were to be received by another psychological treatment at the moment of intake, presence of psychotic symptoms, maniac or hypomanic episodes, or suicidal ideation. The participants got offered a treatment of individual psychotherapy of a maximum of sixteen sessions one or two weeks spaced. The treatment was assessed by therapists from the third year of the master’s degree and were supervised by experienced teachers and senior therapists.

3.2 Instruments

Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale–21 (DASS–21)

(Lovibond&Lovibond, 1995a; Lovibond&Lovibond, 1995b)

 

The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-42) is a self-report questionnaire, developed by Lovibond and Lovibond (1995) to cover and discriminate between depression and anxiety symptoms. During the development of the questionnaire stress came forward as a third factor. The DASS-21 is a shorter version, derived from the DASS-42. The depression subscale (DASS-21- D) contains seven items all representing a statement. Respondents are asked to indicate how much the presented statements applied to them over the past week. Rating is done on a four-point Likert scale. One of the items that is presented to the respondents is the following:

Exemplary item: I found it difficult to work up the initiative to do things

Answering options:            0. Never

  1. Sometimes
  2. Often
  3. Almost always

 

The DASS-21-D yields an internal consistency rate (Cronbach’s alpha) for psychiatric outpatients between .92 and .97 (McDowell, 2006). The psychometric qualities of the DASS are appropriate for people that are unemployed because of mental health problems (Nieuwenhuijsen, De Boer, Verbeek, Blonk& Van Dijk, 2003), which is the case with many fibromyalgia patients as well. Psychometric qualities of the Spanish version are good and similar to those of the English version (Bados, Solanos& Andrés, 2005).

Repertory Grid

The Repertory Grid is an instrument designed to capture the dimensions and structure of personal meaning. Its aim is to describe the ways in which people give meaning to their experience in their own terms. It is designed as a structured interview to make those constructs with which persons organise their world more explicit.According to the research study by Tan and Hunter, the repertory grid is a cognitive mapping tool that is used to get an insight into the mental design of an individual. It has numerous diagnostic qualities that make it extremely useful and critical instrument to map the psychological framework of individuals and understand how they see and perceive themselves(Tan & Hunter, 2002). The repertory grid offers the potential to enhance the overall understanding of the users or individuals. In the specific study, the instrument has been used for the purpose of getting an insight into the mental framework of managers, IS professionals and others that function in the Information Technology function of their respective business organizations.

Over the years, a wide number of research studies have been carried out for the purpose of understanding how Kelly’s tool can be implemented to study cognition in the organizational setting. The high degree of flexibility of the repertory mapping tool makes it useful for psychologists, and employers to use the model and capture the perspective of the patients and the employees respectively. This model helps to design and introduce suitable intervention techniques which can be introduced at the individual level and the organizational level.

3.3 Procedure

Traditional analyses to study psychometric properties were performed: Internal consistency, test-retest reli- ability, convergent validity, and sensitivity to change.

Internal reliability was reported as Cronbach’s alpha considering the rst administration (n = 147), and all sample administrations (n = 1,875) with no missing item data in both cases. Con dence intervals for Cronbach’s alpha for the rst administration were computed through the method proposed by Feldt (1965) (Feldt, Woodruff, &Salih, 1987).

Test-retest reliability was analyzed correlating the scores of one administration with the next, considering from the rst to the fourth session. Convergent validity was analyzed between ORS and the other instruments at initial assessment and session by session. These two analysis were performed through nonparametric corre- lations (Spearman’s rho) due to scores did not conform to normal distribution according to normality tests.

Sensitivity to change was estimated through Wilcoxon signed-rank test, considering the rst and the last session of therapy. A non-parametric hypothesis testing procedure was chosen because, while it is true that the scores distribution did not show statistically signi cant heteroscedasticity, it was not Gaussian. Bootstrapped 95% con dence intervals (CI) for the difference in means and the effect sizes (as Pearsons’s correlation coefcient r) were also computed. All the analysis were performed through the software IBM SPSS 24.

3.4 Statistical analysis

Descriptive statistics in IBM SPSS for Windows, Version 21.0 (IBM Corp. Armonk, NY, USA) were used to describe the demographic characteristics of the sample. To test all hypotheses, and to check whether there was an association between the variables, a correlational matrix was created in SPSS. A wide range of variables were used to conduct the study.To decide if the analysis should be parametric or non- parametric, a Shapiro-Wilk test (Shapiro & Wilk, 1965) was used to assess normality. For variables with a non-normal distribution, it was decided to analyse Spearman correlation coefficients. Spearman is more powerful for non-normal distributions (Zimmerman &Zumbo, 1993) and it is the most common recommended approach for non-normal data (Bishara&Hittner, 2012) and should protect against type I error. An alpha level of .05 was used for all statistical tests. To determine the strength of these correlations, Cohen’s (1988) criteria for small, moderate or large correlations was used.

Intensity of depression, anxiety and stress were represented by the DASS score. For H1 a correlation betweendepression, anxiety, stressand higher self-discrepancy scores were assessed. For H2 a correlation between depression, anxiety, stress and and higher proportions of implicative dilemmas were assessed. For H3 correlations between depression scores and the index of polarisation and variance explained by the first factor were assessed. For H4 correlations between anxiety scores and high indefinition scores were assessed.

To check internal consistency of the scales, Cronbach’s alpha (α) was assessed (Cronbach, 1951). To interpret the level of internal consistency of the scales, the following rules of thumb (George &Mallery, 2003) were used: α < .5 is unacceptable, .5 < α < .6 is poor, .6 < α < .7 is questionable, .7 < α < .8 is acceptable, .8 < α < .9 is good and an α> .9 shows excellent internal consistency.

Three demographic variables were tested if they functioned as a covariate and affected variety of depression, anxiety and stress (as measured by the DASS). Tested covariates were: age, gender anddiagnosis. For the non-normally distributed dependent variables,nonparametric tests were used. The continuous factors age, genderand diagnosis were assessed with Spearman rank correlations.

Results

Characteristics of the sample

This clinical sample (N = 165) was made up of 120 (72.7%) women, and 45 (27.3%) men. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 81 years, with a mean of 43.57 (SD = 13.3), and they presented a variety of psychological problems (Table 1).

From the overall sample, two participants did not start the treatment after intake. One-hundred and sixty-three participants received at least one session of psychotherapy. The mean number of sessions was 12.2 (SD = 5.0). There were 62 therapist participants who saw a mean of 3 (SD = 1.5) clients each. The mean, standard deviation and con dence intervals for each scale and total score of the instruments administered at intake and rst session of therapy are shown in Table 2.

 

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