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Measuring Interpersonal Competence and FIRO-B

The Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior™, or FIRO-B® Test for short, Instrument originated from the need to understand and predict how high-performance military teams would work together during World War II. The first public iteration was derived in the late 1950s by William Shutz. The basic premise for his theory was simple: “people need people”, and people’s interpersonal needs motivate their behaviors.  Schutz’s studying of other prominent psychological figures of the time, including Freud, Adorno, Adler, and Jung, led him to conclude that an individual’s interpersonal needs could be summarized into the three foundational areas of the FIRO-B test: Inclusion, Control, and Affection.

What is The FIRO-B® Test?

The FIRO-B Assessment is a unique instrument that doesn’t actually “measure” anything. Instead, it provides a score that is used to estimate how comfortable an individual is with a specific behavior.

The FIRO-B test includes three main areas:

  • Inclusion
  • Control
  • Affection

Each area is also modified by two further factors:

  • Expressed Behavior
  • Wanted Behavior

In short, Expressed Behavior is related to how comfortable we feel about exhibiting a behavior toward other people. Wanted behavior, on the other hand, is related to the level we want other people to exhibit a behavior toward us.

When you apply Expressed Behavior and Wanted Behavior to the three main areas of the FIRO-B test—Inclusion, Control, and Affection—you end up with six main sections of the FIRO-B test as followed:

  • Expressed Inclusion: This score dictates the level to which you make an effort to include others in your activities, as well as the extent that you work to get others to include you in their events. The higher the score, the more likely you are to want to engage socially and join a larger amount of social groups.
  • Wanted Inclusion: This score will show you the extent that you want others to include you in their activities (without you instigating it), and your need to belong. The higher the score, the more likely you are to want to be invited to social gatherings and social groups. Unlike Expressed Inclusion, this doesn’t mean you will necessarily initiate the request, but you do want to be invited and included.
  • Expressed Control: This section tells you about the extent that you feel comfortable influencing others and the degree that you make an effort to control a situation. Scoring higher is also is related to one’s comfort with organizing and taking responsibility for others.
  • Wanted Control: This score is connected with your comfort level of being in a situation with clear instructions and expectations, where your situation is pre-defined by others. In other words, your comfort level with someone else in charge and influencing the direction of your actions.
  • Expressed Affection: This score is associated with the extent to which you try and engage with people on a personal level. The higher the score is, the more comfortable you are with supporting others and being open with them.
  • Wanted Affection: This score tells you how comfortable you are with others taking a personal interest in you and acting warmly toward you in general. If you have a higher score in this section, then you tend to be more comfortable with others encouraging you and sharing personal matters with you.

Each category receives a score ranging from 0 to 9. Based on your score, each section will fall into one of three categories:

  • 0-2 Low
  • 3-6 Medium
  • 7-9 High

In addition to scores and descriptors for each section of the FIRO-B Test, the FIRO-B Profile will also provide you with overall scores along with descriptive text based off of your results for:

  • Inclusion
  • Control
  • Affection
  • Expressed
  • Wanted
  • Overall

An individual’s results can be used as a tool in helping you predict how comfortable they will be interacting with others in specific situations.  There are specific combinations of results that are considered especially strong or problematic.  Some examples for these combinations are listed below.

Strong And Weak Pairing Combinations For Expressed Inclusion And Wanted Inclusion

  • Strong Pairing Combination: When an individual has similar results for Expressed and Wanted Inclusion, they tend to be “easy to read.” Generally speaking, if you actively work to both include others in your events and also want others to include you in theirs, while communicating those facts clearly, then there is little chance of people misreading your intentions and needs.  The same goes if you match low Expressed with low Wanted Inclusion.  If you make no effort to express a need for Inclusion, then people are more likely to assume that you do not want to take part in their gatherings or social groups.
  • Weak Pairing Combination: Issues may arise if you score high on Expressed Inclusion and low Wanted Inclusion, or vice versa. If you have a high Expressed Inclusion score, but low Wanted Inclusion score, then you like to be the initiator. You like to make known when you want to be part of an event or social group, but you do not want individuals to take initiative and invite you without you previously initiating the situation.  This can be confusing to some people, as it may seem strange that you come off as extremely social and active, but then reject their requests for Inclusion when they initiate it. An issue may also arise if you have a high Wanted Inclusion, but a low Expressed Inclusion. This is a situation where you come off as someone that sticks to their self and doesn’t want to be part of a group, but in reality greatly wants to be included. The problem here is that people can’t read minds, and are more likely to assume that you want to keep to yourself unless you communicate otherwise. This can lead to an unsatisfied Want for Inclusion.

Strong And Weak Pairing Combinations for Expressed Control And Wanted Control

  • Strong Pairing Combinations: Expressed and Wanted Control combinations can lead to both great synergy in a group and, at the same time, a complete lack of it, depending on the situation.  or example, let’s take person “A”, who has a high Expressed Control preference and low Wanted Control preference.  Then take person “B”, who has a low Expressed Control preference matched with a high Wanted Control preference. These two individuals are a natural fit.  Person “A” will gladly take the leadership role while person “B” will be happy not having to fill a leadership role, while still appreciating having someone else create structure that they can follow.
  • Weak Pairing Combinations: Things might not go as smoothly with two individuals that have matching high Expressed Control with low Wanted Control.  In this case, both individuals would want to take the lead in the situation, and neither would want to take orders from the other. Tension is more likely to arise with this combination. A similar issue can arise with two individuals that have matching low Expressed Control and high Wanted Control. In this contrasting example, neither individual would want to take the lead in the group. Both individuals would be left without someone to create structure and direction for the group. Conflict may be avoided, but efficiency and progress could be greatly hampered without clear leadership.

Strong and Weak Pairing Combinations for Expressed Affection and Wanted Affection

  • Strong Pairing Combinations: Expressed and Wanted Affection scores revolve around how much you want to be involved in others’ personal lives, and how much you want others to take interest in yours. If you score high on both, then you are the type of individual that likes to be there for others as a support structure, and you also want others to take interest in your personal life. Issues can arise if you spend all your energy being the support network for others, but then do not see that support reciprocated by others, leading you to potentially feeling burnt-out or taken advantage of. If you have a combination of both low Expressed and Wanted Affection, you are more likely to be the type of individual that doesn’t want to get involved in others’ personal lives. Nor do you want others to try and pry into your own life. This combination can leave you coming off as cold or uncaring if taken to the extreme.
  • Weak Pairing Combinations: A combination of high Expressed Affection and low Wanted Affection creates a situation where you are comfortable connecting with people on a personal level, but don’t like the focus to be on you. You prefer others not to get involved in your personal affairs and prefer the focus to be on the other individuals involved. This combination can confuse people, as you seemingly feel very comfortable communicating and supporting others but do not let others get close to you in the same way. Combining low Expressed Affection and high Wanted Affection leads to a situation where you want others to support you and be involved in your personal life, but you are not one to engage in communication pertaining to personal matters, nor do you feel comfortable being open with others. This can lead to sending mixed signals, where you come off as not wanting Affection and shying away from sharing personal matters, yet you actually have a deep need for encouragement and wish for people to share personal matters with you.

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