This is a page devoted to the principle of complementarity in the interpersonal theory of personality. Elaborated in 1969 by Robert Carson, the interpersonal principle of complementarity specifies ways in which a person's interpersonal behavior evokes restricted classes of behavior from an interactional partner, leading to a self-sustaining and reinforcing system. The principle of complementarity is defined on the interpersonal circle (see figure at left, a model of Donald Kiesler's [1983] borrowed from Michael Gurtman), such that correspondence tends to occur on the affiliation axis (friendliness invites friendliness, and hostility invites hostility), and reciprocity tends to occur on the power axis (dominance invites submission, and submission invites dominance).

This page is maintained by G. Scott Acton, a personality psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco. If you are interested in reading more about interpersonal complementarity, the references below should prove useful; see also Michael Gurtman's Interpersonal Circumplex page, or the Interpersonal Theory page in the Great Ideas in Personality website.


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