Complementarity of interpersonal behaviors in dyadic interactions

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2003 Sep;29(9):1082-90. doi: 10.1177/0146167203253474.


An important assumption of interpersonal theory is that during social interactions the behavior of one person tends to invite complementary behavior from the other person. Past research examining complementarity has usually used either confederates or fictitious interaction partners in their designs and has produced inconsistent results. The current study used observational ratings of behaviors of 158 participants as they interacted with partners across three different dyadic social situations. Randomization tests of hypothesized order relations found that the behaviors exhibited during these interactions tended to occur in a circular pattern predicted by the interpersonal circumplex. These tests also indicated support for Leary's (1957) orientation of the control and affiliation dimensions of the interpersonal circumplex and Carson's (1969) notion that dominant behavior induces submissive responses and friendly behavior encourages friendly responses.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Videotape Recording