Pre-emptive Constructs

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Propositional constructs are those in which the relationships to other

constructs aren’t obvious. In contrast, pre-emptive constructs have no useful

relationship, or, rather, their relationship to the others is fixed in such a way as

to make the other constructs redundant so far as the interviewee is concerned.

They predetermine the rating of elements on the other constructs to the extent

that those other constructs could, to all intents and purposes, be ignored.

For example, if the construct ‘domineering – easy-going’ was used preemptively,

one would, in effect, be saying, ‘If a person is ‘‘domineering as

opposed to easy-going’’, s/he can’t possibly be anything else (for example, a

‘‘nurturing as distinct from careless’’ parent; ‘‘an empathetic as opposed to

insensitive person’’, and so on). So the rating I might give on the other

constructs doesn’t matter.’

Where ‘domineering – easy-going’ is used in a pre-emptive way, a

domineering person is seen as nothing but domineering, and an easy-going

one is nothing but easy-going.

(1) Identification. Identification of a construct as ‘pre-emptive’ depends on the

way in which it is used, rather than on being an attribute of the construct itself.

Thinking back to the process analysis, were there constructs which, once

elicited, seemed to foreclose the possibility of others being mentioned, or to

predetermine, with a feeling of inevitability, the ratings the others received?

(2) Assess proportion. There may not be many!

 (3) Ascribe significance in context. Granted that a construct is being used preemptively,

how does it relate to the topic, and how does it influence the way in

which the topic is seen by the interviewee?

(4) Relationships: glance at the structure. What do the ratings of any other

constructs look like? Are they similar to those for the construct which you feel

is being used pre-emptively?