Handbook of Interpersonal Psychology: Theory, Research, Assessment and Therapeutic Interventions

By Leonard M. Horowitz; Stephen Strack | Go to book overview

19
CIRCUMPLEX MEASURES OF
INTERPERSONAL CONSTRUCTS

Kenneth D. Locke

The interpersonal circle or interpersonal circumplex (IPC) has in recent decades become the most popular model for conceptualizing, organizing, and assessing interpersonal dispositions (Wiggins, 2003). The IPC is defined graphically by two orthogonal axes: a vertical axis (of status, dominance, power, control, or, most broadly, agency) and a horizontal axis (of solidarity, friendliness, warmth, love, or, most broadly, communion). Thus, each point within the IPC can be specified as a weighted mixture of agency and communion. Simple interpersonal characteristics (such as “introverted” or “forceful”) may be located graphically as a distinct combination of the two broad underlying factors; in other words, there is a particular location within the IPC space for each interpersonal disposition.

IPC inventories are designed to measure interpersonal dispositions from every segment of the IPC. IPC inventories comprise a family of related instruments: All members of the family are based on the same theoretical model, but each member focuses on a different type of construct (e.g., traits, motives, problems). In this chapter, I first summarize the IPC model that unites the diverse IPC inventories. Second, I describe the IPC inventories that are currently in use and provide examples of how each one is being used to advance contemporary interpersonal research. Third,I describe some simple methods for scoring, graphing, and interpreting IPC inventories, and for using IPC inventories to identify maladaptive interpersonal patterns.


THE INTERPERSONAL
CIRCUMPLEX MODEL

Multiple literatures support the centrality of agency and communion in human behavior. Evolutionary psychology highlights how, throughout our evolutionary history, natural selection has favored those who could master the challenges of negotiating and coordinating both communion (e.g., attachments and coalitions) and agency (e.g., hierarchical power) (Bugental, 2000). Evidence that different hormones and neurotransmitters are associated with regulating communion (e.g., oxytocin; Bartz & Hollander, 2006) and agency (e.g., testosterone; Archer, 2006) supports the view that they are both essential yet distinct tasks. From a psychometric perspective, factor analyses show that the dimensions of agency and communion account for a

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