Core Constructs

Mon, 16 Dec 1996 15:57:07 -0500


I am a last year' student of Clinical Psychology in Quito, Ecuador
(South America) and I have become interested in the Psychology of
Personal Constructs about 3 years ago, particularly in the area of
I am making my thesis on psychotherapy from the Kelly's point of view
and his classical book of 1955 -in spite of the fact that I find hard to
get texts here in my country. I joined this group of discussion to
clarify my points of view and clear some of my doubts.
About core constructs:

1. Charles Smith writes:
> I was recently talking to someone about their career, when he > mentioned
the importance of being a manager. When I asked "why is > it important
to be a manager?" the response was a long silence, a > look of complete
despondency, and ultimately "do you know, I've never > thought to ask
that before". Is this a core construct?

Considering the answer of Devi Jankowicz:
> I decide that I've arrived at a personal value when:

> a) the client looks at me with amusement or puzzlement when I iterate > the
laddering question "why, for you, is this pole preferable?" (or words
> to that effect). And _I_ feel daft for questioning something which at
> point sounds self-evident to both of us.
> As Donald Super suggested years ago in the manual to his > Occupational
Values Inventory, "a value is an objective we hold for its > own sake,
without needing to question it". That my questioning it > seems amusing
or surprising to the client, then, is one indicator.

could it be that the perplexed answer of your patient shows a core
construct that he considers evident, a kind of a cultural basic and
implicit assumption? That would be the answer of _I've never thought to
ask that before._ He is threatened (in Kelly' sense) by the possibility
that being a manager is _not_ important: there is his discouragement. I
think that those "existential holes" are, somehow, the culturally
implicit constructs that Devi talks about; and maybe your question gets
your manager to a controlled ellaboration in his professional system of

2. A question: are we looking for core or superordinate constructs? They
are not necessarily the same: the core constructs govern the client's
maintenance processes (Kelly, 1955). Perhaps this helps a little to
clarify your doubt.

What do you think?

Esteban Laso