Personal constructs vs. formal constructs
Personal constructs vs. formal constructsGeorge Kelly has described personal construct psychology. People operate by making models from personal experience, rules of thumb, etc. which guide them in everyday life. Personal prejudices, significant experiences and most especially recent experiences influence these models. Models change with time and in the best of worlds gradually improve. Personal constructs can be highly idiosyncratic. They tend to be shared within subcultures, but can be alien to other subcultures. An individual, for example, may share some personal constructs uniquely with family, others with professional colleagues and still others with friends. Becoming influential in the world at large requires dealing with personal constructs beyond ones own subculture.
Science, on the other hand, involves formal constructs which develop general theories, operate as a community, test models experimentally incorporating what works and rejecting what's useless or misleading. Scientific constructs are shared by the entire scientific community, but are constructed and fully appreciated only by specialists intimately connected with a particular construct. Constructs are valued for their usefulness. One measure of value is how often a construct is cited in the scientfic literature. Constructs are modified only with the consent of the community. Individual sciences (chemistry, physics, biology, etc.) require specialized knowledge. Developing constructs generally involves Piagetan formal reasoning in addition to specialized knowledge.
To learn science one must acquire the background knowledge and habits of formal constructs. This may require unlearning habits of personal constructivism and unlearning some personal constructs.
Personal construct psychology at wikipedia