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More hard to find information on FIRO-B

February 27, 2013

Been trying to learn as much as I can about the source of the personality theory I’m so interested in: the FIRO-B, which the Arno Profile System is based on. Especially now that the MBTI certification also grants a license to administer the FIRO-B, which is owned by MBTI’s owner, Consulting Psychologists Publications, Inc.

So I happened to look up Schutz’s, original introduction to the theory, FIRO: A Three Dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behavior yesterday. On Amazon, it’s $179, and the only library that had it was the main NYPL reading room (it can’t be borrowed), in the building with the lions out front (and you have to register and get a library card just to look at a book in the reading room). I had looked up several other type/temperament books there, but forgot why I never looked up this one (may have been unavailable at the time?)

I found the primary thing I was was looking for; the source of his names from the behavior score groups in each area. I had been told that he only gave partial names for the scores:
“Inclusion types” (“oversocial”—high E/W, “social”—medium E/W, “undersocial”—low E/W), “Control types” (“autocrat”—high E/low W, “abdicrat”—low E/high W, “democrat”—med. E/W) and “Affection types” (“overpersonal”—high E/W, “personal”—medium E/W, “underpersonal”—low E/W).
I think someone told me this over the phone years ago, supposedly reading it from some official source or something; as it was the only way to gain the information at the time, and as much as I periodically searched online, there was no further info on it. So I wanted to see the original book myself, where he coined the terms, and the justification for the partial naming.

Come to find out, he did name all the non-moderate score names after all, and the “over-“/”under-” and “auto-“/”abdi-” prefixes represented expressed scores only. Wanted scores have their own roots: “-compliant”/”counter-” for Inclusion and Affection, and “submissive”/”rebellious” for Control. For some reason, these latter terms aren’t mentioned as much as the former ones, so they did look like whole “type” names.

We thus end up with the six dimensions as follows:
eI: “I initiate interaction with others” (High: “oversocial”; low “undersocial”)
wI: “I want to be Included” (High: “social-compliant”; low: “countersocial”)
eC: “I try to control others” (High: “autocrat”; low: “abdicrat”)
wC: “I want to be controlled” (High: “submissive”; low: “rebellious”)
eA: “I try to be close and personal” (High: “overpersonal”; low: “underpersonal”)
wA: “I want others to be close and personal with me” (High: “personal-compliant”; low: “counterpersonal”)
Putting them together, yields the fifteen “Descriptive Schema and appropriate terminology for each Interpersonal Need Area”:

Score Inclusion Control Affection
Low e and w Undersocial
Countersocial
Abdicrat
Rebellious
Underpersonal
Counterpersonal
High e, low w Oversocial
Countersocial
Autocrat
Rebellious
Overpersonal
Counterpersonal
high e and w Oversocial
Social-compliant
Autocrat
Submissive
Overpersonal
Personal-compliant
low e, high w Undersocial
Social-compliant
Abdicrat
Submissive
Underpersonal
Personal-compliant
moderate e and w Social Democrat Personal

This sheds some light on why Ryan calls the low e/wC “The Rebel”, which sounds incompatible with Keirsey’s “Guardian”, as I have matched it. The “rebelliousness” is simply connected to the low wanted Control, shared with the “Autocrat Rebellious”, which is the high eC counterpart.
I believe the term “Rebellious” is a bit misleading, because it makes one think of a more active or “expressive” behavior of rising up against authority (which would be more fitting for the Autocrat version), where “Guardian” of course sounds like it would represent the authority. But all it’s really conveying here is the low wanted Control needs. It’s not telling you who they are rebelling against, and why, or what the circumstances are. It’s just showing a reaction from this need not being met; not their normal default behavior.

Low wC doesn’t mean the person never accepts control; only that they have a stricter criteria for accepting it. The Guardian (or “Stabilizer”) is what Linda Berens calls “structure-focused” (along with the Rational/Theorist), and as a Sensing type (SJ), the structure they favor is “concrete”, or something tangible, like an organization or institution, rather than something abstract like a plan or idea (which the NT favors).
I have not seen much, in type or type-based temperament theories, on how the Keirseyan groups respond when needs are unmet. (These theories try to focus more on the positive side of personality). The biggest clue is in Berens’ “When stressed” descriptions (An Introduction to the Four Temperaments booklet, p.29), where the Stabilizer “complains” (and also becomes “sick, tired, sorry, worried”). This basically is what would correspond to the low e/wC “rebelliousness”, and basically in an “abdicratic” (passive) fashion! (And the NT’s “obsessiveness” would be from the more aggressive high e/low w/C “autocratic” or more active rebelliousness).

Meanwhile, Autocrat Submissive seems like an oximoron. This highlights the “independent/dependent conflict” or “Sanguine swing”. So likewise, Abdicrat Rebellious is a similar conflict, though you don’t see it as much because of the initial lower expressiveness.

These behavior score designations of Schutz’s are part of a larger “Matrix of Relevant Interpersonal Data”, which he called “The Elephant”.
Each area consisted of a smaller matrix of “act” and “feel” by “Self to Other” (Action), “Other to Self” (Reaction), and “Self to Self”.
“Act” and “Feel” divided the rows, which were:
“Desired Interpersonal Relations (Needs)”, which denoted “satisfactory relations” in each area;
“Ideal Interpersonal Relations” is what would correspond to “moderate” expressed and wanted scores;
“Anxious Interpersonal Relations” was subdivided into rows of “Too much activity” (covering high expressed scores) and “Too little activity” (covering low expressed scores); both being divided into “Act” and “feel”.
The last row was “Pathological Interpersonal relations”, which was divided into “too much” and “too little”, yielding:
“Psychotic (Schizophrenia)” as Too Little/Inclusion; (There was no “Too Much/Inclusion”)
“Obsessive-compulsive” as Too Much/Control and “Psychopath” as Too Little/Control; and
“Neurotic” as too much and too little Affection.
“Self-to other (action)” corresponded to the expressed dimension, and “Other to self (Reaction)” was the basis for the wanted dimension (though it is phrased in terms of what people do, rather than what we want them to do, which would be similar to the later Element B).

(I immediately added all of this to the Wikipedia article on the theory).

It becomes more clear that FIRO is not about inborn type or temperament, but rather dealing in more pathological terms (which would explain why some of the concepts and names; especially Ryan’s, are so negative). Moderate behavior is what’s “healthy” (or “ideal”), everything else is either “too much” or “too little”.
The APS I discuss uses the structure to measure inborn temperament, and it still seems accurate, and appears to correspond with type.

Speaking of the the expanded FIRO ELEMENT B, the traits vs type distinction, and especially the “CLARITY” concepts I learned in MBTI class has made me take a second look at that system’s factors, which divide behavior into “Do” and “ Get”.

FIRO’s original “expressed/wanted” basically was:
“I [see that I actually] DO to others”;
“I WANT to GET from others”.
(Or, in Arno lingo; “I [DO] approach others; I want others to approach me”).

Element B adds:
“I WANT to DO to others”;
“I [see that I actually] GET from others”.
(“I want to approach others; others [DO] approach me”).

As Schutz’s Element B Manual “Conversion of FIRO-B to Element B” (WSA, 1987) states (p6):
“The aspects, Expressed and Wanted are not the ends of the same continuum. Expressed is the other end of Received, and Wanted is the other end of Actual or Seen [or What I Now Perceive]. For simplicity, these aspects are now called Do-Get (Expressed-Received) and See-Want (Actual-Wanted).

Accordingly, the new Element B measures ask me, the respondent, to describe:
Expressed (What I Do Toward You), and Received (What I Get From You) behavior (now called Do and Get)
Perceived (What I See); and Wanted (What I Want) behavior (now called See and Want)”

What we WANT to do (but might restrain ourselves for various reasons) should figure in our true preference just as much as what we want to get.
What we DO get from others I originally figured had nothing to do with us; it’s about the other people, but now I realize it could be from vibes we give off and other things people pick up that we might not (Johari Window).

The new theory also simplifies I/C/O as:
Inclusion: In or Out;
Control: TOP or BOTTOM;
Openness: Open or Closed.
(This was the first time I had seen Control simplified to the terms of “Top/Bottom”).

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2 Comments
  1. Should also add what I had a year ago found (FIRO-B® Technical Guide (Hammer & Schnell); 7 page preview: https://www.cpp.com/pdfs/2225.pdf) that I hadn’t yet heard of: compatibility theory!
    originator, reciprocal, and interchange

    Originator compatibility, involves possible clashes between expressed and wanted behaviors. The example they give, is two people with high eC and low wC (aka “Mission Impossible”, “Autocrat Rebellious” or Choleric in Control, and likely corresponding to NT). They:
    “will both want to originate the behaviors associated with the Control needs, and neither will want to
    receive those behaviors. Both persons will want to set the agenda, take responsibility, and direct and structure the actions of others; neither will feel comfortable taking direction. The result could be
    competition or even conflict.”

    Reciprocal compatibility is basically what Keirsey calls “interlinking” in his latest book Personology. Keirsey uses it for the interaction roles [i.e. “Styles”] only, which would fit Inclusion, but I believe it corresponds to any area (including Control). So again, the example given is from Control, where high eC with low wC interacts with the opposite: low eC with high wC (Openly Dependent/Loyal Lieutenant, Abdicrat Submissive, Supine in Control, and likely NF).

    “there is a high degree of reciprocal compatibility because…one will take charge; the other will be happy to let him or her assume the responsibility.”

    Interchange compatibility measures how much individuals share the same need strengths.
    The example is two people with both high eA and wA (“Optimist”, “Overpersonal Personal-compliant” or “Sanguine in Affection”). They:
    “will be compatible because both will see Affection behaviors as the basis of the relationship, and they will engage each other around Affection needs.”(i.e. freely give and receive).

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