Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation

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Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) is a theory of interpersonal relations, introduced by William Schutz in 1958.



According to the theory, three dimensions of interpersonal relations are necessary and sufficient to explain most human interaction. The dimensions are called Inclusion, Control and Affection. These categories measure how much interaction a person wants in the areas of socializing, leadership and responsibilities, and more intimate personal relations. FIRO-B, a measurement instrument with scales that assess the behavioral aspects of the three dimensions was created, based on this theory. Scores are graded from 0-9 in scales of expressed and wanted behavior, which define how much a person expresses to others, and how much he wants from others. Schutz believed that FIRO scores in themselves were not terminal, and can and do change, and did not encourage typology; however, the four temperaments were eventually mapped to the FIRO-B scales, which led to the creation of a theory of Five Temperaments.

Schutz himself discussed the impact of extreme behavior in the areas of inclusion, control, and affection as indicated by scores on the FIRO-B. For each area of interpersonal need the following three types of behavior would be evident: (1) deficient, (2) excessive, and (3) ideal. Deficient was defined as indicating that an individual was not trying to directly satisfy the need. Excessive was defined as indicating that an individual was constantly trying to satisfy the need. Ideal referred to satisfaction of the need. From this, he identified the following types:

Inclusion types.

  1. the undersocial (low EI, low WI)
  2. the oversocial (high EI, high WI)
  3. the social (moderate EI, moderate WI)

Control types

  1. the abdicrat (low EC, high WC)
  2. the autocrat (high EC, low WC)
  3. the democrat (moderate EC, moderate WC)

Affection types

  1. the underpersonal (low EA, low WA)
  2. the overpersonal (high EA, high WA)
  3. the personal (moderate EA moderate WA)

In 1977, a clinical psychologist who worked with FIRO-B, Dr. Leo Ryan, produced maps of the scores for each area, called "locator charts", and assigned names for all of the score ranges in his Clinical Interpretation of FIRO-B:

score Inclusion Control Affection Temperament by APS (all 3 areas)
Low e and w The Loner The Rebel The Pessimist Melancholy
moderate e, low w "Now You See Him, Now You Don't" Tendencies Self-Confident "Image of Intimacy" Tendency Phlegmatic Melancholy/
Phlegmatic Choleric
High e, low w Now You See Him, Now You Don't Mission Impossible Image/(Mask) of Intimacy Choleric
high e, moderate w The Conversationalist "Mission Impossible" with Narcissistic Tendencies Living Up To Expectations Sanguine Phlegmatic/
Choleric Phlegmatic
high e and w People Gatherer (formerly, "Where are the People?") Dependant-Independent conflict The Optimist Sanguine
moderate e, high w Hidden Inhibitions Let's Take a Break Cautious Lover In Disguise Phlegmatic Supine/
Phlegmatic Sanguine
low e, high w Inhibited Individual Openly Dependant Person; (w=6: Loyal Lieutenant) Cautious Lover Supine
low e, moderate w Cautious Expectation The Checker Careful Moderation Supine Phlegmatic/
Melancholy Phlegmatic
moderate e and w Social Flexibility The Matcher Warm Individual/The Golden Mean Phlegmatic

However, to continue not to encourage typology, the names (which were for clinical interpretation primarily) are generally not used, and FIRO-B test results usually total the E, W, I, C and A scores individually. In the derivative "five temperament" system, the different scores are grouped into their corresponding temperaments, and considered inborn types. One key difference is in the "high wanted" scores in the area of Control. A distinction is made between men and women, with men being "dependent", and women, rather then really being dependent, only being "tolerant" of control by others. This is attributed to "the stereotypical role of women in Western Culture", where they were often dependent, and have simply learned to tolerate control from others. This again, reflects FIRO's belief that these scores reflect learned behavior. In five temperament theory, no such distinction between the sexes is recognized, and high wanted scores in Control are seen as an inborn dependency need in both sexes.

Further Development

During the 1970's, Schutz revised and expanded FIRO theory and developed additional instruments (Schutz 1994, 1992) for measuring the new aspects of the theory, including Element B: Behavior (an improved version of FIRO-B); Element F: Feelings; Element S: Self; Element W: Work Relations; Element C: Close Relations; Element P: Parental Relationships; and Element O: Organizational Climate. Since 1984, these instruments have been known collectively as Elements of Awareness. Element B differs in expanding the definitions of Inclusion, Control, and Affection (renamed "Openness"), into an additional six scores to measure how much a person wants to include, control, and be close to others, and how much other people include, control, and like to be close to the testee. The original FIRO-B was sold to Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc. (CPP; which also owns MBTI), and FIRO Element B is owned by Business Consultants Network,


Correlations with MBTI

In a 1976 survey of seventy-five of the most widely used training instruments, the FIRO-B concluded to be the most generally usable instrument in training. The popularity of the FIRO-B began to wane as the MBTI became one of the instruments of choice in business. Since FIRO-B uses completely different scales from MBTI, and was not designed to measure inborn "types", it is often used together with the MBTI by workplaces, and now, the two are offered together by CPP.

Statistical correlation has been done between FIRO-B and MBTI by John W. Olmstead, and also Allen L. Hammer with Eugene R. Schnell; and between Element B and MBTI by Dr. Henry Dick Thompson.

Element B Scales





I include people





I want to include people





People include me





I want people to include me





I control people





I want to control people





People control me





I want people to control me





I am open with people





I want to be open with people





People are open with me





I want people to be open with me





Element B and MBTI Correlations
*Indicates statistical significance

Faith (for Content):