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A Circumplex Model of Interpersonal Attributes in Middle Childhood


  • I am grateful to Bill E. Peterson, to anonymous reviewers, to Fabio Presaghi, and to Melinda Tucker for their supportive and constructive comments; to Francesca Vuaran, to L. Borlandelli, and to E. Vinicio for help in data collection; to parents and teachers who took part in the studies.

should be addressed to Lisa Di Blas, Department of Psychology, University of Trieste, via S. Anastasio 12, 34134 Trieste, Italy. E-mail:


ABSTRACT This article presents evidence for the validity of the circumplex model to represent how parents and teachers organize interpersonal attributes in children. Study 1 showed that the ratings of adults using interpersonal adjectives to describe 4- to 10-year-old children conformed to a circumplex structure. Eight scales—labeled Interpersonal Adjective Scales for Children (IAS-C)—were developed to represent the circular sequence of children's interpersonal attributes, as ordered around the reference axes of Extraversion and Social Appropriateness. The continuum of interpersonal variables substantially corresponded to Schaefer's model for social and emotional behavior, as follows: Warm-Agreeable, Sociable-Cheerful, Exuberant-Dominant, Impulsive-Aggressive, Egocentric-Irritable, Fearful-Insecure, Shy-Silent, and Mild-Placid. Study 2 demonstrated cross-validity for the IAS-C and how they are related to Big Five measures. Study 3 used data from Studies 1 and 2 in a confirmatory approach to test the circumplex IAS-C structure. Findings are discussed in relation to the adult circumplex model and suggest that the child circumplex has distinctive features that must be kept in due consideration when attempting to assess interpersonal qualities in children validly.