Opposites in a dialogical self: Constructs as Characters

Posted by on September 22, 2013 in publication | Comments Off on Opposites in a dialogical self: Constructs as Characters

Hubert J. M. Hermans
Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 1996, 9, 1-26



Bakhtin’s (1973) polyphonic novel serves as a metaphor for a dialogical conception of the self. In line with this metaphor, it is argued that a narrative approach leads to a multivoiced conception of the self, in which the poles of a personal construct are related as opposing characters positioned in an imaginal space. In this space the I fluctuates among positions in a dialogical fashion. Two main features of the relation between positions are discussed: intersubjective communication and dominance. These features form the basis of a theory and methodology that has led to the discovery of a particular phenomenon, dominance reversal. This phenomenon represents a radical change in the dominance relation of contrasting positions within a limited time period, with an apparent absence of causal factors accounting for this change. The implications of this phenomenon for the organization and reorganization of the self are discussed.