Having many constructs, a person must have some way of selecting the relevant one or ones to anticipate various events. As an effective mechanic keeps his or her tools well organized, so a person keeps his or her constructs well organized. The comparison is apt since constructs are, after all, tools for psychological adaptation to the world.
According to the Organization Corollary,
Each person characteristically evolves, for his convenience in anticipating events, a construction system embracing ordinal relationships between constructs. (Kelly, 1955, p. 56)
Superordinate constructs, which apply broadly to several lower-order constructs, are more abstract. The superordinate concept vegetables encompasses several lower-order concepts: carrots, beans, corn, and so on. If some things are true of all vegetables (e.g., they provide vitamins and little fat), it is more convenient to have a superordinate concept than to have only more limited constructs. Conversely, adding subordinate categories to break down a larger concept can lead to more correct anticipations. Consider mushrooms: developing subcategories of edible mushrooms and poisonous mushrooms is adaptive and potentially lifesaving. Similarly, constructs about people may need to be elaborated on in such a hierarchical arrangement to improve adaptation. For example, we distinguish between trustworthy people and con artists. This sort of cognitive elaboration can be an important goal of therapy.
The term core constructs refers to constructs central to a person's identity and existence (Kelly, 1955, p. 482). They are superordinate constructs, encompassing others lower in the hierarchy. They constitute stabilizing elements within the personality, and they are slower to change than less comprehensive peripheral constructs. Developing more superordinate, abstract concepts helps an individual to transcend contradictions. These higher-order constructs vaiy from person to person. "One man may resolve the conflicts between his anticipations by means of an ethical system. Another may resolve them in terms of self-preservation" (p. 56). If these core constructs are not adaptive, it may be possible for therapy to change them.
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