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An Exploration of the Identification of Implicative Dilemmas and Their Relationship to Personal Construct Theory-Congruent Measures of Psychological Well-Being in Nonclinical Samples

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Studies using George Kelly's repertory grid method have indicated a possible relationship between psychological well-being and a variety of measures of conflict and inconsistencies. This study examined the relationship between implicative dilemmas, defined as cognitive conflicts in which implicit associations between desired and undesired states prevent persons from actualizing their ideal selves, and measures of psychological distress assessing psychological states consistent with personal construct theory (PCT), including novel single-item measures of anxiety, guilt, self-esteem, and constriction versus dilation. The use of measures designed to assess various potentially distressing psychological states as described by Kelly rather than traditional measures of psychological distress states was advocated as a means of assessing these phenomena in a way that more accurately reflects both PCT and human experience. The study also differentiated between implicative dilemmas in which a desired change along a self-construct was perceived as possible (resolvable implicative dilemmas) and those in which desired changed was perceived as impossible (unresolvable implicative dilemmas). Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that implicative dilemmas accounted for significant unique variance in Anxiety and Guilt scores on the single-item measures as well as grid-based self-esteem scores only when unresolvable dilemmas were removed, suggesting that the perceived resolvability of self-discrepancies involved in implicative dilemmas may be key to assessing the relationship between implicative dilemmas and psychological distress. Namely, it is suggested that the cost of change assumed in the concept of implicative dilemmas may also be seen as a consolation when desired change is viewed as impossible.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater,Oklahoma, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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