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George Kelly

AKA George Alexander Kelly

Born: 28-Apr-1905
Birthplace: Perth, KS
Died: 6-Mar-1967
Location of death: Waltham, MA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Walnut Grove Cemetery, Worthington, OH

Gender: Male
Religion: Presbyterian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Psychologist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Personal Construct Theory of personality

Military service: US Naval Reserves (1942-45)

Born in Kansas, George Kelly traveled by covered wagon with his family to settle in Colorado in 1909, and spent so much of his childhood in the wilderness and on the move that he never graduated from high school. In college he earned degrees in mathematics, physics, and sociology, then worked as an aviation engineer before being drawn to psychology, the field where he left his mark. While teaching at Fort Hays State University in the 1930s and '40s, Kelly developed programs to provide psychological services for rural schools in Kansas. The service was so well received that a pioneering statewide program was established to fund traveling psychological clinics. During World War II he served in the US Navy, and oversaw a psychological counseling program for Navy fliers.

Kelly's principal contribution to psychology was acknowledging the vagaries of personality, leading to his development of constructive alternativism, a theory that postulates that people construct their own realities. In oversimplified lay terms, Kelly held that human behavior is a series of ongoing experiments conducted by each individual to form that individual's personal boundaries. He held that different people view the world in different ways, that all such perspectives contain elements of truth and falsity, and that within broad parameters none of these perspectives are necessarily "right" or "wrong".

Father: Theodore Vincent Kelly (Christian minister)
Mother: Elfleda Merriam Kelly
Wife: Gladys Thompson Kelly (Language teacher, b. 27-Apr-1906, m. 1931, d. 13-Jan-2004)
Daughter: Jacqueline Kelly Aldridge
Son: Joseph Kelly

    High School: (never completed)
    University: Friends University (attended 1921-23)
    University: BS Mathematics and Physics, Park University (1925)
    University: MS Sociology, University of Kansas (1927)
    University: University of Minnesota (attended 1927)
    Teacher: Psychology and Speech, Sheldon Junior College, Sheldon, IA
    University: BA Education, University of Edinburgh (1930)
    University: PhD Psychology, University of Iowa (1931)
    Teacher: Psychology, Fort Hays State University (1931-43)
    Professor: Psychology, University of Maryland (1944-45)
    Professor: Psychology, Ohio State University (1945-65)
    Professor: Theoretical Psychology, Brandeis University (1965-67)

    American Psychiatric Association President of Consulting Division (1954-55)
    American Psychiatric Association President of Clinical Division (1956-57)
    American Bankers Association Lecturer in Business Sociology (1927-28)
    Boeing Aeronautical Engineer (1929)
    English Ancestry Maternal

Author of books:
The Psychology of Personal Constructs (1955)
A Theory of Personality. The Psychology of Personal Constructs (1963)
Clinical Psychology and Personality: The Selected Papers of George Kelly (1969, posthumous)

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