William Schutz A Psychologist

Published 12 Jun 2017

William Schutz ( November 9,2002) was psychologist at the Esalen Institute (Big Sur, California) and a leader in the encounter group movement of the 1960s. In 1958 Schutz introduced a theory of interpersonal relations he called Fundamental interpersonal Relations orientation (FIRO). Schutz won respect from more traditional colleagues by developing the fundamental interpersonal relations orientation (FIRO). FIRO is an elaborate theory of interpersonal needs that claim to account for the what and the why of an individuals actionstowards other. According to the theory three dimensions of interpersonal relations were deemed to be necessary and sufficient to explain most human interaction. The dimensions were called Inclusion, Control and Affection. Schutz also created FIRO-B, a measurement instrument with scales that assess the behavioral aspects of the three dimensions.
Schutz says that the need for inclusion is the inner drive “to establish and maintain a satisfactory relation with people with respect to interaction and association. It has to do with being in or out. Schutz views the human desire to give attention and understanding to others as conceptually different from the need to receive recognition.

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Schutz defines the interpersonal need for control as “the need to establish and maintain a satisfactory relation with people with respect to control and power. It has to do with being on top or on the bottom. Just as wanting and expressing inclusion were separate issue, the need for control can also flow in two directions. Schutz’s FIRO theory recognises some people have desire to be submissive and dependent, to have their paths lay out by others. They are trustworthy, respectful, obedient and willing to serve. A high need to get and give is not found in the same person.

The third interpersonal desire of the FIR0 triad is “the need to establish and maintain a satisfactory relation with others with respect to love and affection. Whereas the need for inclusion had to do with being in or out, the need for affection has to do with being close or far. A third person in your project group named Al may desire a positive attachment with another member. Schutz would view Al’s quest for friendship as ‘a natural consequence of his need to see himself as lovable. He’ll gauge success by positive feelings rather than by task accomplishment. The six inner needs are the desires of a well-balanced individual.

  • Inclusion
  • Control
  • Affection
  • Wants from others
  • Acceptance
  • Guidance
  • Closeness
  • Expresses to
  • Interest
  • Leadership
  • Liking

The grid forms the Schutz has a more important goal than merely labeling interpersonal tendencies. He wants to explain how these motives came to be.

Schutz claims that once we’ve seen people in action, we will be able to predict their future behavior with reasonable certainty. If you want to know how Irv, Connie, or Al will act in the group, you only need to know what they’ve been like before. Schutz doesn’t shy away from the determinism implicit in this claim. He believes that individual needs develop in response to the way our parents treated us as toddlers and that those needs remain fixed thereafter. He pushes the relational continuity principle back to early childhood as he offers the following analysis.

The inclusion fear that grips the shy introvert comes from being ignored or abandoned as a child. The equally strong anxiety of the overly social glad-handed is the result of receiving too much attention. Youngsters who grow up socially normal had parents who were moderately attentive. Schutz notes that people convicted of child abuse were often battered children themselves.

Schutz created the FIRO –B questionnaire to measure an individual’s orientation toward the six interpersonal needs. The B on the end of the acronym indicates that the purpose of needs is to examine behavior. Responding to six-sample item will give a better understanding of the theory. These items are- inclusion wanted, inclusion expressed, control wanted, control expressed, affection wanted, affection expressed.

Schutz describes his three techniques to for rapid diagnosis of FIRO needs. In the blind milling procedure, he places member in a pitch-dark room and encourages them to wander around. The subsequent discussion about touch, barriers, belongings, and the invasion of space reveals desire for inclusion. To make the need for control public, Schutz tells participants to form a single file line with those most dominant at the front and the more submissive at the back. He refers to this second technique as a “dominance line.” It calls to mind the blustering swagger of the song “Step to the Rear” which Chevrolet adapted for an ad campaign ten years back: “Will everyone here kindly step to the rear and let a winner lead the way?” Schutz’s third technique, the “high school dance” exercise, aims at dredging up the deep-seated anxiety that the ritual evokes in most teenagers. He tells participants to pair off with the person they find most attractive. Schutz then seems pleased when the procedure evokes reactions of intimacy, sexuality, jealousy, and rejection. This method of tapping into the need for affection seems like liberating chicks from their shells with gentle taps from a sledgehammer.

The inclusion – control- affection cycle in groups

Although FIR0 theory focuses on motivation, Schutz also included a principle of group interaction:

For the time period starting with the group’s beginning until three intervals before the group’s termination the predominant area of interaction begins with inclusion, is followed by control, and finally by affection. This cycle may recur.

The typical sequence is inclusion -> control -> affection. During initial meetings, members try to determine where they fit and how much they’re willing to invest in the group. This is the inclusion phase. As these primary identity issues are resolved, the emphasis switches to questions of control. What are the ground rules? Who will be the leader? How much responsibility will be shared? When this struggle is resolved, the group slides into the affection phase, which centers on positive attraction, pairing, jealousy, and hostility.

Schutz’s FIRO-B questionnaire is a more respected technique for assessing social needs. The lack of subsequent development may also be due to the deterministic nature of Schutz’s need assessment. Schutz does not to provide tools to help the person reduce affectionate behavior to a more moderate level. Schutz’s original FIR0 is a provocative analysis of why people do what they do in interpersonal and group situations. Yet it offers no practical advice on how they can communicate more effectively or change their patterns of interaction.

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