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How to Assess Interpersonal Impacts

The Impact Message Inventory-Circumplex (IMI; Kiesler & Schmidt, 1993; Kiesler, Schmidt, & Wagner, 1997) assesses the interpersonal dispositions of a target person, not by asking the target person directly, but by assessing the covert responses or “impact messages”  (i.e., feelings, thoughts, and behavioral tendencies) that the target evokes in another person. The IMI asks the respondent to describe the covert reactions he or she typically experiences in the presence of the target. The IMI consists of 56 items grouped into eight 7-item octant scales. The items are designed to assess the types of reactions evoked by interpersonal behaviors from all regions of the interpersonal circle. Thus, items on the dominant scale are reactions likely to be evoked by a dominant target, whereas the items on the friendly scale are reactions likely to be evoked by a friendly target.

Respondents indicate how accurately each item describes their reaction to the target using a 4-point scale ranging from not at all (1) to very much so (4). Example items are shown in Table 15.1. The IMI scales show convergent validity with measures of interpersonal behavior; for example, the types of problems a target reports on the IIP predict the types of impacts they have on the IMI (Wagner, Kiesler, & Schmidt, 1995). The IMI octant scales have acceptable internal consistencies and also approximate a circumplex structure (Schmidt, Wagner, & Kiesler, 1999b).

However, the IMI does not meet circumplex criteria as well as the other IPC measures reviewed above. Although the octant scales show a circular ordering around the interpersonal axes, they also show unequal spacing around the circumference and inconsistent vector lengths (Schmidt et al., 1999b). The IMI has been used successfully in numerous studies, but when conducting research using the IMI it would be prudent to verify that the IMI scales in your data set meet the criteria for a circumplex prior to combining them using trigonometric formulas of the sort described below.

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