Breaking Down The FIRO-B Psychological Assessment

With business becoming ever more competitive, making sure that you have the right people in place is increasingly important. The team you assemble around, you need to be able to hit the ground running, and deliver to the customers’ expectations on time and every time.  Building a team that you can trust is a challenging prospect, and while you can look through a CV and believe that a particular person will fit with the rest of your carefully-picked team, you won’t know until you employ them, and that can be a significant risk. You can, however, minimize that risk by applying a carefully prepared psychological assessment test and, as long as you are able to understand what the results are telling you, can have confidence in team interactions.

One of the most powerful of these assessments is the Fundamental Interpersonal Relationships Orientation tool, known as FIRO-B for short.  This is an inferential statistics tool that measures interpersonal relationships and personal needs in different, defined, areas and gives an indication as to how well a subject is likely to perform in three distinct fields:

  • Affection. This relates to the emotional bonds and connections that people form and is key to determining the extent to which the subject seeks closeness to other team members.
  • Inclusion. A measure of the need to form relationships amongst other members of the team and therefore the prominence that a person places on contact.  It also shows how much a person relies on recognition within the team and seeks appreciation for what they have done.
  • Control.  The control element is a measure of how much the subject seeks power within the group and this will be a measurement of their dominance over other team members.  The score that a person gets in this part of the assessment will determine how much they attempt to influence other team members.

The FIRO-B psychological assessment tool was developed by Psychologist William Schultz in 1958 and was based on the premise that, generally, people need other people.  Shultz based the assessment on the work carried out by Jung, Freud, and Adler, and developed it to provide an estimate of how well a subject will react within a group rather than supplying a specific and tangible score.  In addition to the three field types, Schultz proposed two other factors – expressed behaviour and wanted behaviour.

Expressed behavior is a factor that dictates how comfortable a person feels with showing certain feelings and traits with others.  It is a factor relating to how open that person is. That openness can often be associated with perceived truthfulness, which in turn makes a person more trusted within a group. Wanted behaviour is that which is courted by the subject and how much they seek closeness – in terms of idea sharing and managerial hierarchy – with other team members.

These two elements can be attributed to each one of the three fields to create a matrix of six factors to help determine how a person will react within the team context. Expressed affection – the desire to engage with other people – is very different from wanted affection, which determines how well a person reacts to others taking an interest in them.  By examining how a personality is constructed within these six constraints, the FIRO-B psychological assessment tool aims to frame a reliable picture of how people in a team will interact, and what problems may occur.

The FIRO-B test has over 60 years of research, development, and testing to support its validity. On its own, the FIRO-B psychological assessment tool provides easy to understand and interpret indicators of how one approaches interpersonal relations. The FIRO-B also possesses the flexibility to be used alongside other assessments such as the MBTI test to provide a greater in-depth understanding of one’s preferences. The FIRO-B test is seen as an effective tool for building team synergy and is popularly used in leadership development, career development, and for optimizing interpersonal relations.