An Expert System Specific to Improving Personal Relationships

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This Demonstration implements an expert system that analyzes the behavioral styles of two people and offers suggestions on how to improve their relationship and personal effectiveness in a business setting.


When the "data" on the "show" setter bar is active, answer the questions that appear consecutively through the "next" check box or by selecting its number from the "question" popup menu.

Question 1 asks you to select first and second persons' names.

Questions 2 to 9 measure assertiveness and questions 10 to 17 measure responsiveness. You have to select from "disagree strongly", "disagree", "unsure", "agree", and "agree strongly".

The "data", "styles", and "advice" on the "show" setter bar give selected questions and their corresponding answers, the styles, and the advice text.


Contributed by: Mikhail Dimitrov Mikhailov (February 2009)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The "expert" knowledge implemented is based on the approach described in the book:

D. W. Merrill and R. H. Reid, Personal Styles and Effective Performance, Radnor, PA: Chilton, 1981.

This book looks at how individuals exhibit two behavioral traits: assertiveness and responsiveness.

Assertiveness refers to the degree to which you "stick up for yourself" and express your own ideas to get what you want. Responsiveness involves paying attention to other people, responding to what they communicate to us, and developing relationships with others. By considering just these two traits, it is possible to categorize people in one of four personal styles: expressive, driver, amiable, and analytic.

The following decision table shows how the possible combinations of assertiveness and responsiveness determine personal style.

A person who scores high in both assertiveness and responsiveness is said to have an expressive style. Such a person is usually impulsive, spontaneous, energetic, quick-thinking, and fast-paced.

When a person is high in assertiveness but low in responsiveness, we think of that person as a driver. Such a person is usually dominant, goal-oriented, impatient, and decisive.

A person with the amiable style is usually a good listener (highly responsive), but rather soft-spoken (lower in assertiveness).

The individual with analytic style is low in both responsiveness and assertiveness. Such a person is usually cautious, introspective, and logical.

To analyze a person's style, Hashim and Seyer used 16 questions per person. The first eight questions measure assertiveness and the last eight measure responsiveness. For every question the user has to show agreement or disagreement on a Likert scale: 0="disagree strongly", 1 = "disagree" , 2 = "unsure", 3 = "agree", 4 = "agree strongly". Thus the user is not forced to give an either/or response and the analysis is more precise.

The highest possible score for eight questions is 8×4 = 32. Since a score of 16 is in the middle, any score higher than 16 makes a person high in that area. From the above decision table it follows that a person's style is expressive if both the assertiveness and responsiveness scores are above 16. Similar rules can be written for the driver, amiable, and analytic styles.

Since there are four personal styles and two people involved, there are 16 different psychological discussions that appear as text without any specific references to individuals by name or sex. To customize the output the proper names and specific pronouns such as him, her, and she are used.

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