Author and Creator of
The Human Element® and FIRO Theory
Will Schutz received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1950. During the Korean War in 1952 he was recalled into the U.S. Navy and did research on understanding and predicting how any given group of men would work together. This resulted in his first book, FIRO: A Three-Dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behavior (1958), which presented the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) theory and several measuring instruments including FIRO-B®, an instrument designed to predict interaction between two people. After the Navy, he taught and did research at several institutions including Harvard, the University of Chicago, and the University of California at Berkeley. While he was successful, he also found that he was straining at the edges of traditional techniques.
In the late 1950s, he came into contact with a psychotherapeutic group for young psychiatrists, designed to help them learn more about themselves before they started helping others. As a member of the group he was admonished to tell the truth, hear feedback from others about how they really felt about him, and open himself to the world of feelings. This was, in his words, “a frightening delight.” By the mid-1960s he started to see an intriguing contrast. At the Albert Einstein Medical School in the Bronx, New York, he watched psychiatrists run psychotherapy groups. At the same time, he began to work with the National Training Laboratories (NTL) at Bethel, Maine, conducting T-groups (“T” for training). He found that the work and the results of the T-group leaders, who were viewed as “unqualified” by the traditional-professional viewpoint, more creative, deeper, faster, and more effective than what was being done in the heart of the psychiatric establishment.