George Alexander Kelly was a well-known American therapist, psychologist, educationist and personality theorist. He was the pioneer of cognitive clinical psychology and was famously recognized for his theory on personality known as Personal Construct Theory. According to the theory different people have different paradigms of viewing the world as the world is a diverse place where people hold different values, morals and cultural upbringing. Born on April 28th, 1905 in a farm close to Perth he received his high school education from Parks College and attended Friends University from where he obtained bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics. Later on, he went to University of Kansas to obtain a master’s degree in sociology as he was very keen on studying the social problems prevailing in the society. He proposed thesis was on the topic of worker’s leisure activities where he analyzed the nature and types of interest and activities that keeps the workforce engaged as well as entertained in their free time.
He started his academic career by teaching at various universities and institutions on a wide range of subjects including speech-making, Americanization and many others. He had the honor of studying as an exchange student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He wrote a thesis as a requirement for completing his bachelor of education degree at the university. The thesis was about the prediction of teaching success. He returned to United States for continuing his doctoral as well as graduate degree in psychology studies at State University of Iowa. His thesis dissertation was related to speech and reading disabilities. George Kelly also worked in school psychology before the horrible event of World War II, designing and developing a program of traveling clinics which served and assisted as a training ground for his students.
He also possessed a very keen interest in learning and applying clinical diagnosis. It was during this phase of t his life that Kelly left behind his interest in psychoanalytic approach to human personality because according to his views people were more troubled and distressed by natural disasters than any psychological issue affecting their mental health negatively. Kelly served as an aviation psychologist where he was responsible for designing and developing the training programs for the local pilots. After that, he served as a professor and director of clinical psychology at Ohio State University for 20 years. It is at this university that Kelly developed one of his well renowned personality theory known as the Psychology of Personal Constructs which was published in 1955. It is a psychotherapeutic approach to help patients analyze their constructs which make up their perception to view and analyze the world and people around them. The constructs are unique to every individual and made up of their social situations and experiences. George Kelly gave the concept of distorted constructs which says that the construction system of an individual has failed to adapt to the new system and does not work appropriately and rationally to predict social events and situations.
George Kelly had the honor of being elected as the president of the Clinical and the Consulting Divisions at the prestigious American Psychological Association and President of the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology providing his in depth analysis and valuable knowledge to the field of psychology. He breathed his last on March 6th, 1967.