The Circumplex Redefined

Since Timothy Leary's research group proposed the brilliant idea in the 1950s that all interpersonal variables can be plotted onto a circular graph, researchers across the world have been evolving his interpersonal circle, commonly known as the interpersonal circumplex (IPC).


Thinking and research around the circumplex has flourished in the decades since Leary’s seminal work. In particular, the Dutch and Belgians have a rich tradition in its use in clinical, research, and education settings; and they recently developed the first evidence-based leadership version of the interpersonal circumplex—the Circumplex Leadership Scan 360º (CLS360). 

Parts of ‘The Circumplex Redefined' section are translated and adapted with permission from Vermeren, P. (2011). Rond Leiderschap: De brug tussen wetenschap en praktijk [Around Leadership: Bridging the Scientist-Practitioner Gap]. Ghent: Academia Press.  The English translation of Around Leadership is due for publication in early 2014.

Circumplex History

The brilliant clinical psychologist Timothy Leary (1920-1996) was known mainly for the model popularly referred to as the interpersonal circumplex, Leary’s circle, or in the Dutch tradition—Leary’s rose.

Current Circumplex Research

Research into interpersonal behaviour has not stood still: “Over a period of fifty years the interpersonal circumplex has developed from an intuitive construction to a scientifically validated model with a paradigm status” (Schacht & Rouckhout, 2005, page 392).

Evidence-Based Interpersonal Circumplex Requirements

A 'true' interpersonal circumplex will meet a number of requirements.

How was the CLS360 Developed?

The development of the CLS360 was sponsored by the Antwerp-based training and coaching company, PerCo. The company also proposed the initial research hypothesis, namely, that leadership styles could be captured in the interpersonal circumplex.

Different Types of Circumplexes

In addition to integrating so many theoretical constructs without having to adapt them, the circumplex approach has provided empirically researched measurement instruments for charting a person’s range of interpersonal behaviour or behavioural repertoire.

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