The act frequency analysis of interpersonal dispositions: Aloofness, gregariousness, dominance and submissiveness1


  • 1

    This study was supported by funds from the Committee on Research, University of California, Berkeley. Requests for reprints should be sent to David M. Buss or Kenneth H. Craik, Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, 3657 Tolman Hall, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720. For their helpful reactions, not always of agreement, to an earlier draft of this article, we thank Jack Block, Lewis R. Goldberg, Harrison G. Gough, Eleanor Rosch, and Jerry S. Wiggins.


A series of studies explores the act frequency analysis of personal dispositions, which entails the identification of categories of prototypical acts, delineation of internal structuring within act categories (from central to peripheral), and the assessment of individuals' dispositions in terms of the relative frequency of performing prototypical acts over a period of observation. These studies were designed to replicate the research of Buss and Craik (1980) on dominance. Through nomination procedures, 100 acts were assembled for each of three dispositions: aloofness, gregariousness, and submissiveness. The internal structure of these categories was examined through judgments of the degree to which each act is a prototypical member of the category. Prototypicality judgments for each act category by three independent panels display a substantial degree of composite reliability. Multiple-act criteria based on highly prototypical acts are predicted with significantly greater success by relevant personality scales than are multiple-act criteria based on more peripheral acts within each category. This finding holds for dominance, replicating the Buss and Craik study, and for aloofness and gregariousness. The multiple-act criteria for submissiveness, however, are not well predicted by matching personality scales. This anomaly is discussed in terms of the bipolarity of behavioral domains, the selection of matching personality scales for specific act categories, and the appropriate conceptualization of submissiveness.