Firo Theory: An Introduction

The Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (Firo) theory is a psychological theory proposed by William Schutz in 1958. It is based on the idea that all humans possess three fundamental interpersonal needs: Inclusion, Control, and Affection. These needs affect how individuals interact with others and how they form relationships. The Firo theory has been widely used in organizational psychology, counseling, and other areas of psychology.

Inclusion refers to the need to be accepted and included by others. Control is the need to have influence and control over one’s environment. Lastly, Affection is the need to be loved and cared for by others. According to Schutz, these needs are universal and affect all aspects of interpersonal relationships.

The Firo theory states that individuals have different levels of these needs, which can be measured through a questionnaire or interview. Schutz suggested that individuals with higher levels of Inclusion, Control, and Affection tend to have more successful interpersonal relationships, while those with lower levels of these needs may struggle to form relationships.

In addition to measuring these needs, the Firo theory also suggests ways to meet them. For example, Schutz suggests that individuals can increase their need for Inclusion by joining groups, engaging in activities with others, and seeking out social support. To meet their need for Control, Schutz suggests taking action, setting goals, and developing problem-solving skills. To meet their need for Affection, Schutz suggests engaging in activities that make them feel loved and appreciated, such as spending time with family and friends.

The Firo theory has been used in multiple fields, including organizational psychology, counseling, and relationship building. It has been used to improve communication, team dynamics, and conflict resolution. It has also been used to explain why certain individuals have difficulty forming relationships, and how to address these difficulties.

Overall, the Firo theory is a useful tool for understanding interpersonal relationships and how to improve them. By understanding and addressing an individual’s needs for Inclusion, Control, and Affection, it can be used to improve interpersonal relationships and overall wellbeing.


Carter, B., & Steiner, R. (2015). Interpersonal communication: Making connections. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Froelich, J. (2017). Using the Firo theory in counseling. The Professional Counselor, 7(3), 32-40.

Schutz, W. C. (1958). FIRO: A three-dimensional theory of interpersonal behavior. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

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