Current Series

Northern Ireland: The Frozen Conflict

Paul Barbour

During this interactive and practical session, Paul will share his own experiences of a frozen conflict growing up during the Northern Ireland troubles. He will share how his experiences have influenced his career and research, drawing upon Kelly’s sociality corollary. Paul will challenge each of us to reflect on how we may or may not be contributing to our own and other broader frozen conflicts.

For more information on Paul’s research, see:

Barbour, P.J. and Bourne, D.J., 2020. Developing sociality in a post-conflict Northern Ireland: An application of the Perceiver Element Grid. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, pp.1-25.

When “Social Skills” Meet Social Cognition: An Enactive Social Communication Intervention Framework for Neurodiverse Young People

Sandy M. Burbach

Developments in neurocognition and understanding of the relationship between social interaction and social cognition over the last 20 years have profound implications for the way we deliver social communication interventions for neurodiverse young people. In the mid- 2000s, I was concerned that resources for social communication interventions did not sufficiently account for the role that information processing plays in social cognition, despite apparently having been designed for children and young people that we knew were developmentally challenged in all those areas.

It seemed to me that we were missing something crucial about the relationship between information processing, “social skills” and the nature of social cognition. Consequently, we set about trying to design a group intervention which engaged directly with the effects of neurodiverse sensory and information processing, cognition and language development on social constructs and meaning. We were attempting to move away from social competence as a tick-list of acquired skills, towards an intervention embedded in the understanding of social cognition as participatory sense-making. I was tasked with integrating multiple theoretical perspectives, including grounded cognition, Personal Construct Psychology and Enactivism, into one coherent, concrete, intuitive and versatile approach. This presentation is a brief description of the outcome, which has been in clinical use since 2012. Harry Procter, lockdown and Taylor and Francis gave me the incentive to finally write it up.

Three Short(er) Talks

Sarah Crawford-Browne, University of Cape Town

Constructing psychological safety in a dangerous neighbourhood: Women’s expressions of continuous traumatic stress

Beyond Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain lie the communities most affected by South Africa’s past apartheid and current structural violence. These residents experience extraordinarily high levels of gang, criminal, and domestic violence. The neighbourhood under study recorded a murder rate of 143 per 100 000 people, contrasting with national and global rates of 36 and 6 per 100 000 respectively (ISS, 2018; UNODC, 2019).

This study is concerned with understanding the psychological impact of such exposure to ongoing contextual violence on adult women. Grounded in constructivist theory, the study identified participants’ shared construal of their high-violence neighbourhood and consequent adaptations. Constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014) guided semi-structured interviews with 21 adult women using the MTRII interview (Harvey, et al., 1994) and Life Events Schedule (Green, 1996), and transcript analysis.

The participants construed their neighbourhood by drawing on shared constructs of ‘anticipating danger’ and ‘mistrusting others’. Most participants adapted to their construal of the context by elaborating these constructs’ implicit poles of ‘constructing safety’ and ‘affirming decency’, with variations in elaboration leading to four patterns of adaptation. These findings raise questions regarding the role of implicit construal, awareness, and elaboration in adapting to a potentially traumatic environment.

Clare Mason, University of Hertfordshire:

The Radicalization of Political Campaigners

This study involved individuals campaigning for and against Brexit, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. It engaged concepts linking the different theoretical perspectives of identity fusion (Swann et al., 2009) and the constructivist model of radicalization (Winter & Feixas, 2019). The study measured participants’ degree of fusion and their willingness to undertake extreme acts on behalf of the group. Construing was examined using the repertory grid technique. Similar results were found in both studies, with a high proportion of participants found to be fused and, if so, more willing to undertake extreme acts than non-fused. In both studies, opposition activists were construed more negatively and extremely than fellow activists and this was associated with an increased willingness to undertake extreme acts. Findings were consistent with the personal construct model of radicalization.

Adrià Gabarnet, University of Barcelona

Virtual-self Identity Construal in Online Video Games - A Repertory Grid Study Protocol

The Internet, and especially online videogames, seem to have a great impact on the way people construe their identity. People may use online gaming to experience an enhanced version of their self that matches more accurately the attributes they often relate to their ideal self or may even explore completely different alternative selves.

Our project aims to study the role that new technologies have in the way people build their identity nowadays. More specifically, the project intends to study how people use videogame avatars to explore different alternative identities. It could be possible for people to manifest entirely different versions of themselves through their online videogame characters. Sometimes, those alternative identities may even be a projection of what the player considers to be an ideal version of themselves.

Other variables may increase or hinder that capacity to project the ideal self on a customizable “virtual self”; some are inherent to the person, such as cognitive complexity or their level of psychological well-being, while others may be more related to the specific game they play, such as the degree of immersion experienced while playing.

The repertory grid technique will be used to explore online videogame players’ construct systems and to understand their need to explore alternative identities through their videogame characters. Other instruments will also be administrated to measure people’s experienced immersion when playing the game, the aspects of it that are more appealing to them, and their degree of subjective psychological well-being to assess how these variables, among others extracted from the repertory grid, may affect this identity exploration.

The Importance of Judaism in the Psy Project

Craig Newnes

This presentation invites an examination of the importance of Judaism in psychological theory and practice and asks why so few clinical psychologists and counselors remain aware of the origins of modernist Psy.

Working and Living with PCP in Organisations

(2-hour workshop)

Susan Bridi, Shenaz Kelly-Rawat and Fiona Duggan

PCP is a framework which has proved to be immensely useful in the context of Organisations. As we emerge out of possibly the largest collective experiment organisations have ever experienced, many are now in the process of reconstruing their purpose and meaning. We believe PCP has much to offer these organisations as they attempt to make sense of where they've come from, where they currently are and where they might like to be.

Our presentation combines three different narratives of working with PCP in organisations. For Shenaz, PCP has been the foundation of her work as an Occupational Psychologist in organisations for the last 30 years. Susan is working on how Kelly's ideas about an individual construct system might be useful to apply to other systems, such as groups and organisations. Fiona uses PCP alongside her background in architecture to explore how space can support (or hinder) organisational change.

During this 2 hour meet-up, each narrative will be followed by time for discussion and reflection. In sharing our experience of PCP in organisations, Shenaz, Fiona and Susan will each discuss:

  • Where we've come from and why we started introducing PCP to organisational work.

  • Where we are today and why we believe PCP is even more relevant to the challenges currently facing organisations.

  • Where we're moving towards in our organisational work and what PCP continues to offer.

Working and Living with PCP in Organisations

(2-hour workshop)

Susan Bridi, Shenaz Kelly-Rawat and Fiona Duggan

The experiences we have in childhood may validate or invalidate our construing of self. This will be a practical workshop with an introductory case example to illustrate use with a young person. You will be asked to choose an experience to explore and then to create a comic strip of a validating or invalidating experience but please don't choose something that will be traumatic to explore. You will need pen/pencil and paper and although you will be asked to draw, you do not need any artistic skills at all.