Affiliation Need

Need for affiliation (n Aff) was 1 of 20 psychological needs identified by H. A. Murray and measured through his Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The n Aff is scored when one or more of the characters in a subject's TAT story shows concern "over establishing, maintaining, or restoring a positive affective relationship with another person" (italics in the original). Individuals scoring high on n Aff on Gough's Adjective Check List tend to describe themselves in such terms as friendly, warm, trusting, talkative, cheerful, kind, loyal, helpful, praising, accepting, and generous. These characteristics are more likely to be associated with feminine than with masculine personality stereotypes. S. Miller and K. M. Nardini found, for example, that women scored higher than men on a measure of affiliation tendency, while Bose, Das Gupta, and Lindgren observed that female undergraduates in Calcutta who took a Bengali test measuring n Aff and need for achievement (n Ach) scored higher on n Aff and lower on n Ach than male undergraduates did.

There is considerable evidence to show that n Ach and n Affare negatively correlated, probably because the two motives are generally expressed in mutually incompatible forms of behavior.

Studies generally confirm hypotheses based on n Affthe-ory. Lansing and Heyns, for instance, found that n Affwas significantly related to frequency of local telephone calls made by subjects, although it was only weakly related to numbers of letters written or frequency of visits to relatives and close friends living at a distance. Sid and Lindgren found that women students majoring in nursing and education rated higher on a measure of n Aff than did students in other major fields, and that the n Aff of expectant mothers was higher than that of any other group tested.

The possibility that affiliation tendency is characterized by sensitivity to rejection was explored by Mehrabian, who found the two traits to be essentially unrelated. Both variables were negatively correlated with a measure of achieving tendency, but affiliation tendency was positively correlated with measures of empathy and arousal-seeking tendency, whereas sensitivity to rejection was negatively correlated with arousal-seeking tendency and social desirability. Mehrabian found, however, that scores on measures of affiliative tendency and sensitivity to rejection could be combined to produce a single measure of dependency.

Henry C. Lindgren

See also: Prosocial Behavior

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