Interpersonal compatibility  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Interpersonal compatibility is a concept that describes the long-term interaction between two or more individuals in terms of the ease and comfort of communication.

Existing concepts

Although various concepts of interpersonal compatibility have existed from ancient times (see e.g. Plato's Lysis), no general theory of interpersonal compatibility has been proposed in psychology. Existing concepts are contradictory in many details, beginning with the central point -- whether compatibility is caused by matching psychological parameters or by their complementarity. At the same time, the idea of interpersonal compatibility is analyzed in non-scientific fields (see e.g. Astrological compatibility).

Among existing psychological tools for studying and/or measuring interpersonal compatibility, the following are noteworthy:

Socionics has proposed a theory of intertype relationships between psychological types based on a modified version of C.G. Jung's theory of psychological types. Communication between types is described using the concept of information metabolism proposed by Antoni Kępiński. However, socionic theory is somewhat controversial because of a lack of experimental data (although socionic data are much more representative than e.g. those of Ackoff and Emery).

Alternative hypotheses of intertype relationships were later proposed by adherents of MBTI (D. Keirsey's hypothesis of compatibility between Keirsey temperaments, an intertype relationships chart by Joe Butt and Marina Margaret Heiss, LoveTypes by Alexander Avila and some other theories) Neither of these hypotheses is commonly accepted in the Myers-Briggs type theory. MBTI in Russia is often confused with socionics, although the 16 types in these theories are described differently and do not correlate exactly.


Complementarity in social psychology is defined on the basis of the interpersonal circle (Carson, 1969), according to which, interpersonal behaviors fall on a circle with two dimensions, namely dominance (i.e. dominant-submissive) and warmth (i.e. hostile-friendly). It states that each interpersonal behavior invites certain responses of another interactant. The behavior and the response it invites are said to be complementary (Horowitz, Dryer, & Krasnoperova, 1997) when friendly behavior begets friendly behavior, and dominant behavior begets submissive behavior. When people fail to give the invited response, it is said to be a non-complementary interaction. If the first person’s behavior invites a reaction from the second person that matches the second person’s goals, then the second person is satisfied; otherwise, the second person is frustrated (Dryer & Horowitz, 1997)

See also

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