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How to assess Interpersonal Problems

The most common self-report measure of problems associated with each octant of the interpersonal circle is the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP; Horowitz, Alden, & Pincus, 2000). The IIP consists of eight 8-item***(CH REP) scales that assess problematic dispositions associated with each octant of the interpersonal circumplex. Example items are shown in Table 15.1.

Respondents indicate how distressed they have been by each problem on a 0 (not at all) to 4 (extremely) scale. The items are divided into two sections, namely, “things you fi nd hard to do with other people” and “things that you do too much”. The octant scores show adequate internal and 1-week test–retest reliability (Horowitz et al., 2000), and meet the criteria for circumplex structure (Alden, Wiggins, & Pincus, 1990; Pincus, Gurtman, & Ruiz, 1998; Vittengl, Clark, & Jarrett, 2003). The scales also show convergent validity with circumplex measures of interpersonal traits (Alden et al., 1990) and interpersonal motives (Locke, 2000). The IIP has been successfully applied to a variety of research questions. For example, Locke (2005) studied if there were connections between how people expected others to treat them in their everyday lives and the interpersonal problems assessed by the IIP.

Some of the findings were that anticipating others being critical or dismissive predicted problems with being too agentic, whereas anticipating others being uninviting or unsupportive predicted problems with being too uncommunal. As another example, numerous studies of psychotherapy process and outcome have used the IIP (e.g., Alden & Capreol, 1993; Borkovec, Newman, Pincus, & Lytle, 2002; Gurtman, 1996; Horowitz, Rosenberg, & Bartholomew, 1993; Maling, Gurtman, & Howard, 1995; Muran, Segal, Samstag, & Crawford, 1994). While the findings have not been completely consistent, they generally suggest that problems in the “agentic and uncommunal” region predict poorer progress, at least in psychodynamic treatment.

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