Merrill Reid Social Styles

by Arlin Cuncic

Merrill Reid Social Styles are based on the work of industrial psychologist David W. Merrill and co-researcher Roger H. Reid, M.A., which began in the mid 1960s. Based on extensive data analysis, Merrill and Reid identified the interpersonal dimensions of assertiveness and responsiveness, which combined to form four social styles: analytical, driving, expressive and amiable.

Driving Style

People with a predominantly driving style are high on assertiveness and low on responsiveness, meaning that they tend to be decisive and direct, according to the National Health Service article "How to Understand Differences Between Individuals." Drivers can also be demanding, forceful and competitive. They prefer to control their emotions and are results-oriented and less focused on relationships and feelings, according to The TRACOM Group (formerly Personnel Predictions and Research, with Merrill as President) article "Model Overview," from the company's website. As an example, a work colleague who makes direct requests of others, speaks frankly and honestly, and is focused on meeting goals above nurturing relationships, would be considered to have a driving style. Famous drivers might include Teddy Roosevelt and Barbara Walters, suggests a slide presentation entitled "Understanding People's Styles," prepared by Iowa State economics professor Ronald E. Deiter.

Amiable Style

Individuals who operate with an amiable style have low assertiveness and high responsiveness. They are open with their emotions and prefer collaborating and building relationships, rather than directing others by giving orders, which leads others to view them as warm and friendly. Other adjectives used to describe these individuals include loyal, empathetic, relaxed, supportive, considerate and stable, according to the National Health Service. As an example, consider a classmate who is friendly, a good listener and who prefers to "go along" with group decisions rather than make decisions for the group. Famous amiables might include Princess Diana and Kevin Costner, asserts Deiter's presentation.

Analytical Style

Analytical-style individuals are low both in terms of assertiveness and responsiveness. They prefer controlling their emotions, are overly focused on accuracy and can be viewed as detail-oriented to a fault -- so much so that others feel their pace is too slow. Just as with drivers, analyticals view displays of emotion as only appropriate in certain settings, generally outside of the workplace. Individuals with an analytical style can also be described as disciplined, precise, cautious, conscientious, systematic and logical, as indicated by the National Health Service. As an example, consider a friend who keeps his emotions hidden in most settings, who needs to have his environment orderly and precise, but who prefers to let others take the lead most of the time. Famous analyticals might include Dr. Spock and Albert Einstein.

Expressive Style

Those with an expressive style are high in both assertiveness and responsiveness. These individuals share their thoughts and feelings freely with others, and may be described as motivating, enthusiastic, gregarious, impulsive, influential, charming, confident and inspiring. As an example, consider the parent in your neighborhood who rallies others together for various functions or causes, or the relative who coordinates all of your family gatherings. Famous expressives might include Oprah Winfrey and Madonna, as noted in Deiter's presentation.


About the Author

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.

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