Skip to main content Skip to navigation

What's the difference between a construal and a program?

Shopping construals

Construals are a kind of 'what if' thinking. They are about things we observe, or that we imagine, or things we feel. They can be everyday things or fantasy, things that are clear or fuzzy, familiar or very strange. They are likely to be connected with our experiences and memories so they are quite personal and - like clouds - very changeable. They are 'my ideas' - whether they are right or wrong is beside the point. A construal is a bit like a day-dream - it might go anywhere at any time - nothing is pre-planned. You can sometimes even surprise yourself!

A shopping construal might include some things we want to buy and some money (unless it's only 'window shopping'). We might imagine going to a small shop, a supermarket, an open-air market, an online store, e-Bay etc.

As a construal it might be 'pretend' shopping, fantasy shopping, an idea for a shopping game or an inter-galactic space game with some kind of shopping in it. Whatever the context we can probably visualise the things we might buy and the money we might have - and we can imagine choosing, and changing our mind.

Here is an example: it may not do much, but it records our imagining and it helps us to imagine more. It is a kind of extension of our mind:


Shopping programs

Programs have to do with actions, actions that are pre-planned, having a purpose, and doing something useful or entertaining. Like a cooking recipe, or instructions for building a model, or doing a magic trick, or even the telling of a joke. You have to remember things correctly, and in the right order.

Some people make a 'shopping list' to get their groceries. That's a bit like using a program. You can see how a program is very different from a construal - everything in a program is pre-planned and it's clear what you have to do at every stage. It's efficient, but you don't have to think at all! You could be a robot. Before long our shopping may be done by robots.

But you can probably see that every program begins its life with a construal - one reason why we've introduced the idea here.

Here is a program that we've derived from the construal shown above: