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Affiliation

The need to form attachments to other people for support, guidance, and protection.

The need to form attachments with others is termed affiliation. Attachment is one of 20 psychological needs measured by the Thematic Apperception Test, a projective personality test developed at Harvard University in 1935 by Henry Murray. Subjects look at a series of up to 20 pictures of people in a variety of recognizable settings and construct a story about what is happening in each one. The need for affiliation (referred

Facial expressions are an important part of a person's affect. (Photo by Robert J. Huffman. Field Mark Publications. Reproduced with permission.)

to as "n Aff") is scored when a test-taker's response to one of the pictures demonstrates concern over "establishing, maintaining, or restoring a positive affective relationship with another person." In the hierarchy of needs outlined by Abraham Maslow, the need for affiliation (or "belongingness") appears midway between the most basic physical needs and the highest-level need for self-actualization.

Anxiety has been observed to strengthen one's need for affiliation. In addition, females generally show a higher need for affiliation than males. Traditionally, affiliation has been negatively correlated with achievement. While achievement centers on one's personal self-improvement, affiliation focuses on concern for others, even to the extent of deliberately suppressing competitive tendencies or accomplishments that may make others less comfortable.

Further Reading

Harvey, Terri L., Ann L. Orbuch, and John H. Weber, eds. Attributions, Accounts, and Close Relationships. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1992.

Meinhold, Patricia. Child Psychology: Development and Behavior Analysis. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1993.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychological Dictionary: Abacus to Courage