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Unfolding Interpersonal Behavior


  • This research was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l'Aide à la Recherche du Québec. I am grateful for the help of Nina Sand, Eun Jung Suh, Kirk Brown, Ximena Bernadin, Stéphane Côté, and Marc Fournier on various phases of this program of research and for the comments of Elizabeth Foley, Carolina Pansera, Michael Quek, Jennifer Russell, and David Zuroff during the preparation of this article.

can be addressed to D. S. Moskowitz at Department of Psychology, McGill University, 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Canada or at


Abstract Models of interpersonal traits have traditionally contained two independent dimensions, one referring to dominance as the opposite of submissiveness and the other referring to agreeableness as the opposite of quarrelsomeness. These models are primarily based on psychometric analyses of the co-occurrence of interpersonal characteristics. The present article reviews literature based on event-contingent recording studies that examine whether the structure of interpersonal behavior as revealed in its everyday occurrence is consistent with this model of interpersonal traits. Evidence from studies of the effects of hierarchical social role situations, the relations between behaviors and affect, and the effects of alterations in serotonin are used to evaluate whether dominance, submissiveness, agreeableness, and quarrelsomeness are related, opposite, or independent behavioral systems. The pattern of findings suggests that agreeableness and quarrelsomeness may be part of the same behavioral system while dominance and submissiveness may have separate underlying behavioral systems.

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