Core Versus Peripheral Constructs

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Some constructs are obviously ones which have a deep and personal

significance to the interviewee, and others are fairly humdrum.

‘Core constructs’remind the personof whos/heis; what really, reallymattersto them,

and what they value in existence; ‘peripheral constructs’ summarise their feelings,

understandings, and knowledge concerning cheese, and cabbages, and kings. In

other words, core constructs are central, while the peripheral ones, though they

reflect the core constructs, deal in the small change of existence. And then there are

those which lie somewhere in the middle, neither core nor peripheral: those which

encapsulatemeanings about friends, spouses, jobs, and the like.

From this you can infer that the closer to the core a construct is, the more it concerns

matterswhich touch onthe selfhood of theindividual.Core constructs are thosewhich

‘govern the individual’s maintenance processes and which are central to his or her

identity’ (Winter,1992: 11).

Myself as I am now – Myself as I would wish to be

Being in control of one’s life – Being a hostage to fortune

Justice and fairness to people – Arbitrary and unfair to people

are all examples of constructs about people which appear to touch on some

fundamental personal issues in existence and, depending on context, could be

regarded as core constructs.

There’s a lot more about core constructs in Chapter 8, where the structure of

the construct system is discussed in the context of personal value

measurement. For the time being, let’s just say that it is important, in

describing the constructs the interviewee uses, to do the following.

1. Identify Core Constructs

These are constructs that particularly matter to your interviewee. How can you

tell which ones they are? Look at the content of the construct, and from your

memory or notes of how the process proceeded when you were eliciting it. If

in doubt, ask your interviewee! (There is also the technique of systematic

laddering upwards and an approach called resistance to change technique,

both used in the identification of core constructs and personal values. These

are outlined in Sections 8.1.1 and 8.2, respectively.)