ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (1): 99-110.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2017.00099

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Agency, Communion and their relationship in personality research

PAN Zhe; GUO Yongyu; XU Buxiao; YANG Shenlong   

  1. (School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education, and Hubei Human Development and Mental Health Key Laboratory, Wuhan 430079, China)
  • Received:2016-04-12 Online:2017-01-15 Published:2017-01-15
  • Contact: GUO Yongyu, E-mail:


Agency is the pursuit of individuality through power and control; communion is the participation in a large organism through care and contact. Agency and communion are regarded as a personality taxonomy which can be properly used to classify phenomena within domains of traits, motivations, and values. However, theoretical reasoning and empirical findings show some disagreement about the relationship between agency and communion. Specifically, for traits, an orthogonality of agency and communion is supported; for motivations, a divergence exists between a mutually exclusive relation and a partially exclusive relation; for values, a divergence exists between an orthogonal relation and a mutually exclusive relation. Possible reasons for the disagreement are as follows: diverse definitions of agency and communion by different researchers; unique properties of each personality domain, as well as interactions between these domains. Further research should focus on the influence of culture background on the relationship and the meanings of agency and communion. The application of such taxonomy to the personality of Chinese should be explored as well.

Key words: agency, communion, personality taxonomy, trait, motivation, values