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The interpersonal circle or interpersonal circumplex is a model for conceptualizing, organizing, and assessing interpersonal behavior, traits, and motives. It was developed by Jerry Wiggins (Wiggins, 2003). The interpersonal circumplex is defined by two orthogonal axes: a vertical axis (of status, dominance, power, or control) and a horizontal axis (of solidarity, friendliness, warmth, or love). In recent years, it has become conventional to identify the vertical and horizontal axes with the broad constructs of agency and communion (Horowitz, 2004). Thus, each point in the interpersonal circumplex space can be specified as a weighted combination of agency and communion.

Character traits

Placing a person near one of the poles of the axes implies that the person tends to convey clear or strong messages (of warmth, hostility, dominance or submissiveness). Conversely, placing a person at the midpoint of the agentic dimension implies the person conveys neither dominance nor submissiveness (and pulls neither dominance nor submissiveness from others). Likewise, placing a person at the midpoint of the communal dimension implies the person conveys neither warmth nor hostility (and pulls neither warmth nor hostility from others).

The interpersonal circumplex can be divided into broad segments (such as fourths) or narrow segments (such as sixteenths), but currently most interpersonal circumplex inventories partition the circle into eight octants. As one moves around the circle, each octant reflects a progressive blend of the two axial dimensions.

There exist a variety of psychological tests designed to measure these eight interpersonal circumplex octants. These include:

  • Interpersonal Adjective Scales (IAS; Wiggins, 1995) is a measure of interpersonal traits associated with each octant of the interpersonal circumplex.
  • Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP; Horowitz, Alden, Wiggins, & Pincus, 2000) is a measure of problems associated with each octant of the interpersonal circumplex, whereas
  • Inventory of Interpersonal Strengths (IIS; Hatcher & Rogers, 2009) is a measure of strengths associated with each octant.
  • Circumplex Scales of Interpersonal Values (CSIV; Locke, 2000) is a 64-item measure of the value individuals place on interpersonal experiences associated with each octant of the interpersonal circumplex.
  • Person's Relating to Others Questionnaire (PROQ), the latest version being the PROQ3 is a 48-item measure developed by the British doctor John Birtchnell.
  • Impact Message Inventory-Circumplex (IMI; Kiesler, Schmidt, & Wagner, 1997) assesses the interpersonal dispositions of a target person, not by asking the target person directly, but by assessing the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that the target evokes in another person.

Since interpersonal dispositions are key features of most personality disorders, interpersonal circumplex measures can be useful tools for identifying or differentiating personality disorders (Kiesler, 1996; Leary, 1957; Locke, 2006).


Originally coined Leary Circumplex or Leary Circle after Timothy Leary is defined as "a two-dimensional representation of personality organized around two major axes".[1]

During the twentieth century, there were a number of efforts by personality psychologists to create comprehensive taxonomies to describe the most important and fundamental traits of human nature. Leary would later become famous for his controversial LSD experiments at Harvard. His circumplex, developed in 1957, is a circular continuum of personality formed from the intersection of two base axes: Power and Love. The opposing sides of the power axis are dominance and submission, while the opposing sides of the love axis are love and hate.

Leary argued that all other dimensions of personality can be viewed as a blending of these two axes. For example, a person who is stubborn and inflexible in their personal relationships might graph her personality somewhere on the arc between dominance and love. However, a person who exhibits passive–aggressive tendencies might find herself best described on the arc between submission and hate. The main idea of the Leary Circumplex is that each and every human trait can be mapped as a vector coordinate within this circle.

Furthermore, the Leary Circumplex also represents a kind of bull's eye of healthy psychological adjustment. Theoretically speaking, the most well-adjusted person of the planet could have their personality mapped at the exact center of the circumplex, right at the intersection of the two axes, while individuals exhibiting extremes in personality would be located on the circumference of the circle.

The Leary Circumplex offers three major benefits as a taxonomy. It offers a map of interpersonal traits within a geometric circle. It allows for comparison of different traits within the system. It provides a scale of healthy and unhealthy expressions of each trait.

Adjective Checklist, Leary

=Timothy Leary's Interpersonal Behavior Circle Personal Inventory=

Directions: This sheet contains a list of descriptive words and phrases, which you will use to describe yourself. Read the items quickly and cheek those that are descriptive of yourself at the present time. Leave the answer space blank if an item does not apply to you. First impressions are generally best. If you feel much doubt whether an item applies, leave it blank.


1 __ Well thought of
2 __ Always giving advice
3 __ Often admired
4 __ Tries to be too successful

33 __ Makes a good impression
34 __ Acts important
35 __ Respected by others
36 __ Expects everyone to admire him


5 __ Able to give orders
6 __ Bossy
7 __ Good Leader
8 __ Manages other

37 __ Forceful
38 __ Dominates
39 __ Likes responsibility
40 __ Dictatorial


9 __ Self-respecting
10 __ Boastful
11 __ Self-Confident
12 __ Somewhat snobbish

41 __ Independent
42 __ Proud and self-satisfied
43 __ Self-reliant and assertive
44 __ Egotistical and conceited


13 __ Able to take care of self 
14 __ Thinks only of himself 
15 __ Businesslike 
16 __ Selfish

45 __ Can be, indifferent to others
46 __ Shrewd and calculating
47 __ Likes to compete with others
48 __ Cold and unfeeling


17 __ Can be strict if necessary
18 __ Impatient with others' mistakes
19 __ Hard boiled when necessary
20 __ Sarcastic

49 __ Firm but just
50 __ Self-seeking
51 __ Stern but just
52 __ Cruel and unkind


21 __ Can be frank and honest
22 __ Outspoken
23 __ Irritable
24 __ Frequently angry

53 __ Critical of others
54 __ Often Unfriendly
55 __ Straight forward
56 __ Hard hearted


25 __ Can complain if necessary
26 __ Bitter
27 __ Resents being bossed
28 __ Resentful

57 __ Often Gloomy
58 __ Complaining
59 __ Skeptical
60 __ Rebels against everything


29 __ Able to doubt others
30 __ Jealous
31 __ Hard to impress
32 __ Stubborn

61 __ Frequently disappointed
62 __ Slow to forgive a wrong
63 __ Touchy and easily hurt
64 __ Distrusts everybody


65 __ Able to criticize self
66 __ Self punishing
67 __ Easily embarrassed
68 __ Timid

97 __ Apologetic
98 __ Shy
99 __ Lacks self confidence
100 __ Always ashamed of self


69 __ Can be obedient
70 __ Passive and unagressive
71 __ Easily led
72 __ Obeys too willingly

101 __ Usually gives in
102 __ Meek
103 __ Modest
104 __ Spineless


73 __ Grateful
74 __ Dependent
75 __ Often helped by others
76 __ Hardly ever talks back

105 __ Admires and imitates others
106 __ Wants to be led
107 __ Very respectful to authority
108 __ Clinging vine


77 __ Appreciative
78 __ Lets others make decisions
79 __ Accepts advice readily
80 __ Likes to be taken care of

109 __ Very anxious to be approved of
110 __ Trusting and eager to please
111 __ Easily fooled
112 __ Will believe anyone


81 __ Cooperative
82 __ Too easily influenced by friends
83 __ Always pleasant and agreeable
84 __ Wants everyone's love

113 __ Eager to get along with others
114 __ Will confide in anyone
115 __ Wants everyone to like him
116 __ Agrees with everyone


85 __ Friendly
86 __ Fond of everyone
87 __ Sociable and neighborly
88 __ Friendly all the time

117 __ Affectionate and understanding
118 __ Likes everybody
119 __ Warm
120 __ Likes everyone


89 __ Considerate
90 __ Forgives anything
91 __ Kind and reassuring
92 __ Too lenient with others

121 __ Encourages others
122 __ Over sympathetic
123 __ Tender and soft hearted
124 __ Tries to comfort everyone


93 __ Helpful
94 __ Generous to a fault
95 __ Enjoys taking care of others
96 __ Too willing to give to others

125 __ Big-hearted and unselfish
126 __ Over protective of others
127 __ Gives freely of self
128 __ Spoils people with kindness


Directions for Scoring the Leary Interpersonal Behavior Test

  1. The test has a total of 64 points.
  2. Each group (P, A, B, C, D, E, F, G) has a possible total of 8 points.
  3. Test takers check each of the 8 descriptive words/phrases that describe them and count the total of checks for each group. Thus, if group P has 4 checks, the score for P = 4.
  4. On the Interpersonal Behavior Circle the internal circle represents 0, the first concentric circle 2, the next 4, the next 6, and the last 8.
  5. For each pie shaped piece of the pie (P, A, B, C, D, E, F, G), place a dot to represent the number of checks added up for each group (P, A, B, C, D, E, F, G) on the test on the line that represents 2, 4, 6, or 8. If you have uneven numbers of checks, place dots for those numbers (1, 3, 5, 7) in between the concentric lines of the circle.
  6. Connect the dots around the circle to create a geometric shape that defines your predominant areas of interpersonal behavior.
  7. If your score is low (2 - 4), it represents a moderate level on the particular quality. If your score is high (6 - 8), it represents a more extreme level of the behavior in question.

See also



  1. Personality Psychology. Randy J. Larsen och David M. Buss. 3rd edition. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-110168-4(ISE)P.80


  • Hatcher, R.L., & Rogers, D.T. (2009). Development and validation of a measure of interpersonal strengths: The Inventory of Interpersonal Strengths. Psychological Assessment, 21, 544-569.
  • Horowitz, L.M. (2004). Interpersonal foundations of psychopathology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Horowitz, L.M., Alden, L.E., Wiggins, J.S., & Pincus, A.L. (2000). Inventory of Interpersonal Problems Manual. Odessa, FL: The Psychological Corporation.
  • Kiesler, D.J. (1996). Contemporary interpersonal theory and research: Personality, psychopathology and psychotherapy. New York: Wiley.
  • Kiesler, D.J., Schmidt, J.A. & Wagner, C.C. (1997). A circumplex inventory of impact messages: An operational bridge between emotional and interpersonal behavior. In R. Plutchik & H.R. Conte (Eds.), Circumplex models of personality and emotions (pp. 221–244). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Leary, T. (1957). Interpersonal diagnosis of personality. New York: Ronald Press.
  • Locke, K.D. (2000). Circumplex Scales of Interpersonal Values: Reliability, validity, and applicability to interpersonal problems and personality disorders. Journal of Personality Assessment, 75, 249–267.
  • Locke, K.D. (2006). Interpersonal circumplex measures. In S. Strack (Ed.), Differentiating normal and abnormal personality (2nd Ed., pp. 383–400). New York: Springer.

External links

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