Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 355–371 | Cite as

Complementary Oppositions in the Construal of Self and Others

Original Article


In the construal of self and others, highly diverse, idiosyncratic, and evocative adjectival terms were manifested as contrasting, opposite terms for a set of supplied constructs rather than conventional antonyms. These “personal contrasts” are seen as a neglected companion to George Kelly’s (The Psychology of Personal Constructs, 1955) conception of “personal constructs”. These construct/contrast pairings are seen as representing connected, complementary aspects of an essential unity such that each side of a pair informs the meaning of the other. This complementarity, long recognized in an extensive literature on polar, dichotomous, and binary pairs in the physical and social worlds, is seen as having applicability to many descriptive adjectives. It is suggested that adjectival complementary pairings often involve unique associative linkages, the tracing of which could prove fruitful for understanding the construal of self and others.


Adjectival oppositions Complementary oppositions Personal constructs Personal constrasts Role construct repertory grids 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jamaica PlainUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryHarvard University Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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