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About The FIRO-B® Instrument

9 May 2012

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    About The FIRO-B® Instrument
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Compiled by Lana van Staden

“When people have sufficient self-awareness to have a healthy self-esteem, and when organisations promote an open, honest climate, much pain can be eliminated.”

– Will Schutz (taken from Thompson, 2001)

FIRO-B® ASSESSMENT Theory and Original Intentions for the Tool The FIRO-B® Assessment is based on a theory developed by Will Schutz called Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (Thompson, 2001). The FIRO-B® ASSESSMENT describes an individual’s interpersonal needs in terms of how they would characteristically behave towards others and how this individual would want others to behave towards them (Waterman & Rogers, 2004 in Cunningham & Taylor, 2009). Interpersonal needs refer to relations between people and assumes that due to the presence of other people, interpersonal situations lead to different behaviour to the way in which the individual would behave were they on their own (Schutz, 1958). An interpersonal situation is a situation which involves two or more individuals and in which these individuals take account of one another in order to come to a decision or to achieve a desired purpose (Schutz, 1958). The FIRO-B® Assessment was designed as a tool to use in researching the interaction between two people (Thompson, 2001). It measures how an individual acts in interpersonal situations as well as what will lead to the prediction of interactions between people (Schutz, 1958). The FIRO-B®  instrument was originally developed by Schutz for the purpose of establishing high performance teams within the US military (Krause, Anderson & Thompson, 2008). 

What the FIRO-B® ASSESSMENT Measures:  

Schutz’s theory posits that “People Need People” (Schutz, 1958) and that there are three dimensions of interpersonal relations that are necessary and sufficient to explain most human interactions (Thompson, 2001).  These three dimensions are: Inclusion, Control and Affection and the FIRO-B® Assessment was created to measure the behavioural aspects of these dimensions (Thompson, 2001).

  • The need for inclusion is defined as the need to establish and maintain satisfactory relations with people in terms of interactions and associations (Schutz, 1958).
  • The need for control is defined as the need for an individual to maintain a satisfactory relationship with another person with respect to control and power (Schutz, 1958).
  • The interpersonal need for affection is seen as the need to establish a satisfactory relationship with others with regards to affection and love (Schutz, 1958).

The FIRO-B® Assessment is unique in that the individual receives two scores for the three dimensions (Inclusion, Control and Affection)  – their expressed score for that dimension as well as their wanted score for that dimension (Furnham, Crump and Chamorro-Premuzic, 2007). 

 The FIRO-B® Assessment and 360° Assessments

 It has been found that managers who have high Expressed Control may have the tendency to overrate themselves in 360° assessments compared to their peers and line managers but not in comparison with their subordinates (Davda and Deakin, 2012). However, people who indicate high Expressed Inclusion score tend to underrate themselves compared to their peers (Davda and Deakin, 2012). 

Relationship Building Expressed Affection is positively related to building and repairing relationships, displaying compassion or sensitivity and an ability to put others at ease (Davda and Deakin, 2012). 

Correlation with the Big 5 Personality Factors Furnham, et al. (2007) found that: Expressed Inclusion was positively correlated with Extraversion and Agreeableness, that there is a positive correlation between Wanted Inclusion and Expressed Control with Extraversion, and that Wanted Control is positively correlated with Neuroticism and negatively correlated with Conscientiousness and Extraversion. Expressed and Wanted Affection are correlated with Extraversion, Agreeableness and Openness. 

Leadership There is considerable overlap between FIRO-B® Assessment scales and the Hogan Development Survey which assesses dysfunctional personality strategies (Furnham, 2008). In a study entitled ‘Interpersonal Relationship Orientations, Leadership, and Managerial Level: Assessing the Practical usefulness of the FIRO-B®  Assessmen in organisations’ conducted by Ahmetoglu,  Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham  (2010), the FIRO-B®  ASSESSMENT positively predicted ratings of leadership capability and managerial level reached even after controlling for the possible effects of intelligence and demographic variables, thus providing  evidence of the validity of the FIRO-B®  Assessment in predicting measures of leadership capability. 

South African Research There is some research on the psychometric properties of the FIRO-B® Assessment in South Africa. There was good evidence for internal consistency reliability, which indicates that the assessment is consistently measuring the constructs (Cunningham & Taylor, 2009).  South Africans tended to score higher than the US sample on all of the FIRO-B® Instrument scales (Cunningham & Taylor, 2009). 

Applications and Uses of the FIRO-B® ASSESSMENT 

1. Job Fit The FIRO-B® Assessment can be applied in organisations to assess for job fit. If what an individual wants in terms of interpersonal interaction (Inclusion, Control, and Awareness) does not match the job requirements and environment, they will most likely be unhappy at work (Thompson, 2001). 

2. Team Compatibility There are two potential levels of team compatibility to which the FIRO-B® Assessment could provide insight, namely person-to-person compatibility and person-to-team compatibility (Thompson, 2001). Compatibility to the general interpersonal environment in which a team works can be assessed. This environment is the result of a combination of the many interpersonal wants and patterns of interaction of the team members (Thompson, 2001). It is important to ensure the compatibility of individuals to teams. 

3. Assessing Leadership Style or Behaviour What a leader does in the areas of Inclusion, Control and Affection will create certain perceptions from team members regarding how their manager leads (Thompson, 2001). In addition to this, what the team members / followers want in the areas of Inclusion, Control and Affection should match what the leader does in order for the leader-follower relationship to be compatible (Thompson, 2001). 

4. Couples or Individual Therapy The FIRO-B®  Assessment profile may be useful when the practitioner needs to assist clients in creating an awareness of individual interpersonal expression as well as the needs which could provide insight that could aid in increasing general satisfaction, identifying sources of conflict and assisting individuals with building more satisfying relationships (Cunningham & Taylor, 2009) 

5. Leadership Development No single style of leadership behaviour can be said to be successful in all situations (Thompson, 2001), but the FIRO-B® Assessment could aid the leader in assisting the team to work to the best of their abilities. The FIRO-B®  Assessment also assists practitioners to be better prepared for 360°° feedbacks in terms of being able to manage the differences between own and other’s ratings (Davda and Deakin, 2012). 

Related Tools: 

FIRO® Business Assessment Registered Trademark: FIRO-B® and FIRO® Business are trademarks or registered trademarks and Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation–Behavior is a trademark or registered trademark of CPP, Inc. Reference List Ahmetoglu, G. Chamorro-Premuzik, T. & Furnham, A. (2010). Interpersonal Relationship Orientations, Leadership and Managerial Level: Assessing the Practical Usefulness of the FIRO-B® Assessment in Organisations. International Journal of Selection and Assessment,  18( 2) 220-225. Cunningham, D. & Taylor, N. (2009). Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation Behaviour (FIRO-B® ASSESSMENT). [Technical Report]. Johannesburg.  Jopie van Rooyen and Partners (Pty) Ltd. Davda, A. & Deakin, P. (2012).  The Practical Application of the Links between Personality and Self- Awareness in a Coaching Situation.  BPS Division of Occupational Psychology Conference, 13 Jan 2012. Furnham, A. (2008). Psychometric Correlates of FIRO-B® Assessment Scores in Personality Factor Space. International Journal of Selection and Assessment. 16(1) 30-45. Furnham, A., Crump, J., & Chamorro-Premuzik, T. (2007). Managerial Level, Personality and Intelligence. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22 (8) 805-818. Krause, N. A. Anderson, M. G. & Thompson, R. (2008). Validation of the FIRO-B® Assessment Instrument with Benchmarks Performance Dimensions. Poster Presented at the 2008 Annual Conference of the American Psychological Association, Boston, Massachusetts. Schutz, W. (1958). FIRO®: A Three-Dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour. United States of America: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Thompson, H.L. (2001). Introduction to FIRO Element B™ in Organizations. United States of America: Wormhole Publishing.

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