A real-time assessment of interpersonal complementarity

Patrick Markey, Sara Lowmaster, Wendy Eichler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The principle of complementarity asserts that the interpersonal behaviors of interaction partners tend to complement each other by encouraging partners to act similarly in terms of warmth and opposite in terms of dominance. The current study applied Sadler's computer joystick tracking device (originally designed to assess personality perception) to examine complementarity. Sixty-six unacquainted females were videotaped during an unstructured dyadic interaction, and their warmth and dominance behaviors were coded using the joystick. Results indicated that both partners tended to alter their behaviors in a complementary manner. In addition, partners who complemented each other in terms of warmth tended to like each other more and performed tasks more accurately and quickly than dyads who were not as complementary on this dimension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-25
Number of pages13
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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