Test of the influence of interpersonal rigidity on the behaviour and experiences of others
Barr, Kirsten Nicole
Master of Arts
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Interpersonal rigidity is defined as the extremeness of an individual’s behaviour and the narrowness of the behavioural repertoire measured according to the Interpersonal Circumplex (Kiesler, 1983). While acknowledged as an important influence on interpersonal behaviour, rigidity has been examined in very few studies to date. The influence of interpersonal rigidity was therefore explored using sequential analytic techniques designed to assess the impact of specific behaviours on the course of ongoing interactions. Pairs of undergraduate students completed the Revised Interpersonal Adjective Scales (lAS-R; Wiggins et al., 1988), from which their rigidity scores were calculated. They then played a modified, sequential version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game, set up so that the two dimensions of the Interpersonal Circumplex (Dominance and Love) were reflected respectively in the choice of which player went first on each turn, and whether to cooperate or compete (defect). In general, vector length (rigidity) scores were either negatively or not related to indices of sequential dominance, suggesting that rigid individuals are not those who control interactions, but rather are those whose behaviour becomes more predictable from that of more flexible individuals. In addition, the sequentially dominant participants had more positive views o f their own and their partners’ behaviour, suggesting that making others’ behaviour more predictable is somehow interpersonally satisfying. Some alternative statistical techniques are suggested for future research to clarify these somewhat counterintuitive relationships.