History, Reliability and Validity of the FIRO-B® Instrument

Instrument History

The Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation–Behavior (FIRO-B®) instrument was created in the late 1950s by William Schutz, PhD. Schutz developed the FIRO-B® theory to aid in the understanding and predicting of how high-performance military teams would work together.

In developing the FIRO-B® theory, Schutz began with the premise that "people need people." He used the term interpersonal to indicate any interaction, real or imagined, occurring between people. He used the term need to describe a psychological condition that, if not satisfied, leads to a state of discomfort or anxiety.

In addition to his own observations of group behaviour, Schutz was influenced by the psychological literature, including the works of Freud, Adorno, Fromm, Adler and Jung, among others. He posited that interpersonal needs could be grouped into three categories: Inclusion, Control and Affection. The FIRO-B® model describes the interaction of these three categories of interpersonal need along two dimensions: expressed and wanted.

CPP, Inc. began publishing the FIRO-B® instrument in the 1960s. The FIRO-B® Interpretive Report for Organizations was published in 1996 and the Leadership Report Using FIRO-B® and MBTI® was published in 1999. In 2002, the FIRO-B® instrument became available via the Internet using CPP’s online assessment delivery system. CPP has also published a variety of support materials for business and clinical applications in the past two decades, including the FIRO-B® Technical Guide.

The FIRO-B® instrument is used in a wide variety of applications including:

  • Leadership development
  • Team building
  • Individual interpersonal effectiveness
  • Retention

The FIRO-B® instrument can also be used in conjunction with the MBTI® instrument for leadership development with the Leadership Report Using FIRO-B® and MBTI® and in team-building workshops.

Reliability and Validity

The FIRO-B® instrument measures behaviours driven by interpersonal needs in three areas - Inclusion, Control, and Affection - and addresses how such behaviours can affect one’s interactions with others (Hammer & Schnell, 2000). The FIRO-B® model is based on the theory that fulfillment of these interpersonal needs serves as motivation in people’s daily functioning.

The need for Inclusion refers to the extent to which individuals need to have social interactions and associations with others. The need for Control refers to the extent to which individuals want to lead and influence others as well as the extent to which they prefer to be led and influenced (Hammer & Schnell, 2000). The need for Affection refers to the emotional connections between people and the extent to which individuals seek to establish relationships with others, particularly one-on-one relationships (Waterman & Rogers, 1996).

The FIRO-B® instrument measures the extent to which each of these interpersonal needs is expressed or wanted (Schnell & Hammer, 1993). Expressed needs refer to behaviours individuals demonstrate toward others, whereas wanted needs refer to behaviours individuals prefer to have exhibited toward them by others (Schutz, 1958).

The FIRO-B® instrument also measures overall needs (e.g., Total Inclusion) and overall behaviours (e.g. Total Expressed) and provides an Overall Interpersonal Need Score. Respondents receive a numerical score as well as a categorical score (low, medium or high) for each measure.

The current norm sample for the FIRO-B® instrument includes a U.S. national sample of 3,091 individuals who took the assessment in 1997 (Hammer & Schnell, 2000). In examining the internal consistency reliability of each measure for the national sample, results indicate that reliability coefficients for all measures are satisfactory, ranging from .85 to .96. Test-retest reliability coefficients also demonstrate good reliability - ranging from .71 to .85 - for three different samples reported in the FIRO-B® Technical Guide (Hammer & Schnell, 2000).

Research results also support the validity of the instrument. A number of studies have shown the FIRO-B® instrument to be related to measures of leadership (e.g. Fiedler’s Least Preferred Co-worker scale, -.43 to .46), personal value such as community service (.05 to .27) and relationships/friendships (-.03 to .27) (Hammer & Schnell, 2000). Additionally, relationships are also found with instruments such as the MBTI® Form M instrument (-.56 to .29) and the CPI instrument (-.48 to .51) (Hammer & Schnell, 2000).


Hammer, A. L. & Schnell, E. R. (2000). FIRO-B® Technical Guide. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Schnell, E. R. & Hammer, A. (1993). Introduction to the FIRO-B® in Organizations. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

Schutz, W.C. (1958). FIRO®: A Three Dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Waterman, J.A. & Rogers, J. (1996). Introduction to the FIRO-B®. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.