Openness in FIRO Element B
Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) is a theory of interpersonal relations, introduced by William Schutz in 1958.1 This theory mainly explains the interpersonal interactions of a local group of people. The theory is based on the belief that when people get together in a group, there are three main interpersonal needs they are looking to obtain – affection/openness, control and inclusion. Schutz developed a measuring instrument that contains twelve scales of nine-item questions, and this became version B (for "Behavior"). This technique was created to measure how group members feel when it comes to inclusion, control, and affection/openness or to be able to get feedback from people in a group.
Element B measures interpersonal behavior in three areas:2
- Inclusion: The amount of interaction that a person exhibits toward others, receives from others and wants to exhibit and receive. Inclusion refers to how much interaction a person wants.
- Control: The structure of the interaction that a person exhibits toward others, receives from others and wants to exhibit and receive. Control refers to influence, decision-making and being in charge.
- Openness: The depth of interaction that a person exhibits toward others, receives from others and wants to exhibit and receive. Openness refers to sharing of personal feelings and thoughts with others.
Openness according to Will Schutz is the degree to which I’m willing to open to another person. Openness varies across time, among individuals, and within relationships.3
The behavior with openness is a function of two aspects: the rational and the defensive. The rational part results from my preference for a certain amount of openness in one’s life. The defensive aspect results from one’s fear of being too open and thus vulnerable to being rejected and unloved. When I am flexible and rational, I can adapt to different situations. When I am some mixture of the rational and defensive, depending on how I feel about myself. The worse I feel, the more defensive I am.4
3Schutz, Will. The Human Element : Productivity, Self-esteem, and the Bottom Line. 2nd ed.,The Schutz Company, 2008, p41.
4Schutz, Will. The Human Element : Productivity, Self-esteem, and the Bottom Line. 2nd ed.,The Schutz Company, 2008, p42.
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