| Superordinate constructs
subordinate constructs follow from the Organization
which introduces the notion of an ordinal relation. Kelly defines
relation’ as occurring where “One construct may subsume another
one of its elements” (p.57). He then offered two ways in which a
construct may ‘subsume’ a subordinate construct, either through
the cleavage intended by the other or it may abstract across the
cleavage line’ (p.57). Problems inherent in this dual definition have
highlighted by Ryle (1975) who described the first kind of subsuming as
the ‘more general’ approach and the second as a ‘construct construing’
Ryle suggested that the ‘more general’ relationship has both constructs
to the same elements and underlies Hinkle’s (1965) laddering
and implications grid procedures.
Ryle suggested the
‘construct construing’ relationship which did not have both constructs
to the same elements could be found in the continual process of
choice while aberrant forms of such ‘construct construing’ could be
in thought disorder and humour (Ryle, 1975, p.122).
Perhaps as further evidence of the difficulty of this concept, Husain
(1983) pointed out that Kelly did not succeed in giving a single
example of a construct of a construct or of a construct subsuming
another as one
of its elements, arguing that Kelly’s defining example (p.57) was a
constellatory rather than an ordinal relationship. Kelly also
introduced other notions that impinge on superordinacy; such as the ‘regnant’ construct, ‘a kind of
superordinate construct’ (p.480) which is a purely dichotomous, and the
‘comprehensive’ construct (pp.477-479) which ‘cuts across many other
construct lines’ (p.478), although it is not clear how this latter
variant differs from the superordinate construct which ‘abstracts
across’ the ‘cleavage line’ of another construct.
In a theoretical logico-mathematically rigorous (ie difficult) paper,
Chiari, Mancini, Nicolo, & Nuzzo (1990) have showed that if a
construct is subordinate to another,
then elements in both poles of the subordinate construct will be
under one and the same pole of the super-ordinate construct. This is a
superordinate relationship, and obviously can be relaxed with a fuzzy
probabilistic version which could accord with data on
super-sub-ordinate relationships in a grid. But Crockett (1980) has
questioned whether we need the notion of super- and sub-ordinacy of
constructs, arguing that the more important notion is that of
implication which does not require the presence of hierarchy, an
argument rather more like that of Hays (1958) referred
to in the related entry, hierarchical construing.
G, Mancini, F., Nicolo, F., and Nuzzo, M. L. (1990) Hierarchical
organization of personal construct systems in terms of the range of
convenience. International Journal of Personal Construct
Psychology, 3, 281-311.
M. (1983) To what can one apply a construct? In J.R.
Adams-Webber and J.C. Mancuso (Eds.) Applications of personal
construct theory (pp. 11-28) Toronto: Academic Press.
A. (1975) Frames and cages: The repertory grid approach to
human understanding. Brighton, UK: Sussex University Press
Richard C. Bell