Wiggins' (1991) has developed a taxonomy of ideas about agency and communion. Wiggins' conception of agency involves power, mastery, and assertion. The opposite of agency is passivity, which involves weakness, failure, and submission. Communion involves intimacy, union, and solidarity. The opposite of communion is dissociation, which involves remoteness, disaffiliation, and hostility. Wiggins' (1991) placement of constructs under agency or communion is theoretical. More recently, Digman (1997) has derived two higher-order factors, using factor analysis on Big Five data, that correspond to Wiggins' conceptual coordinates of agency and communion. However, Digman's placement of constructs of other theorists (reflected in the Big Five table) differs somewhat from that of Wiggins.



World Views


Utilitarian SphereMoral Sphere

Angyal (1941)


Bakan (1966)




Able to WorkAble to Love

Adler (1912, 1964)

Superiority StrivingSocial Interest

Horney (1937)

Moving against OthersMoving toward Others

Fromm (1941)

Separate IdentityOneness with World

Sullivan (1953)

Need for PowerNeed for Tenderness

Erikson (1950)

AutonomyBasic Trust

Hogan (1983)

Achieving StatusMaintaining Peer Popularity

McAdams (1985)

Power MotivationIntimacy Motivation


Brown (1965)

Pronouns of PowerPronouns of Solidarity

White (1980)

Dominance / SubmissionSolidaarity / Conflict

Benjafield and Carson (1985)

Assured-Dominant WordsWarm-Friendly Words

Men and Women

Constantinople (1973)


Bem (1974)


Spence (1985)


Measurement of Interpersonal Behavior

Freedman et al. (1951)

Dominance / SubmissionAffiliation / Hostility

Foa and Foa (1974)


Norman (1963)


(This table is taken from Wiggins, 1991.)


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Adler, A. (1964). Social interest: A challenge to mankind. New York: Putnam.

Angyal, A. (1941). Foundations for a science of personality. New York: Commonwealth Fund.

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Benjafield, J., & Carson, E. (1985). An historicodevelopmental analysis of the circumplex model of trait descriptive terms. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 4, 339-345.

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Spence, J. T. (1985). Gender identity and its implications for the concepts of masculinity and femininity. In T. B. Sonderegger (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, 1984 (pp. 59-95). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

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Wiggins, J. S. (1991). Agency and communion as conceptual coordinates for the understanding and measurement of interpersonal behavior. In W. M. Grove & D. Ciccetti (Eds.), Thinking clearly about psychology: Vol. 2. Personality and psychopathology (pp. 89-113). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

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