Affiliation in psychology. What is it, the definition is short, concept, motives


  1. Definition of what it is
  2. Level
  3. High
  4. Low
  5. Motivation
  6. 4 types of motivation trends
  7. Causes
  8. Need
  9. Mechanism
  10. Affiliation Videos

Numerous psychological and anthropological studies have proved that a person cannot develop as a person outside of society. Without communication, activity and contact between people are impossible. Affiliation is the desire of an individual to be in society, to establish warm, trusting relationship. For the first time this concept was introduced by the American clinical psychologist Henry Murray, who dealt with the topics of personality and motivation.

Definition of what it is

Affiliation in psychology is the need to feel affection, make friends, share joy with other people, and be part of a group. This is how this aspiration was described by G. Murray in 1938 The attractiveness of such a contact between both participants in the interaction is important.

Foreign and domestic psychologists such as M. V. Libin, H. Heckhausen, J. Atkinson, H. Heckhausen investigated the desire to establish interpersonal contacts through motivation for it. A. Mehrabian viewed affiliation as everyday social, mutually beneficial interactions.

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M.I. Lisina argued that the motivation for affiliation is secondary, since the desire for communication is the satisfaction of a cognitive need. D. McClelland believed that affiliation was an ongoing need for human contact. At the same time, a person should feel like a part of the system, achieve recognition and receive the approval of society.Affiliation in psychology. What is it, definition, concept, motives

YES. Leontyev pointed out that affiliation arises in family, friendships, and depends on the style of communication. The desire is manifested in the need not only to interact with other people, but also to provide help, to accept support. The need increases when stressful, anxious situations arise. Emotional contact in these conditions softens negative feelings. The lack of such a connection exacerbates feelings of loneliness and creates frustration.


Psychologists distinguish 2 levels of affiliation - high and low. They practically do not occur in their pure form, and depend on the type of person's personality, his emotional state in a certain period of time. The average level of affiliation is also nominally distinguished, which is characterized by a combination of traits of both types.


People with a high level of affiliation are classified as extroverts. These are open, sociable people who are not afraid to talk to strangers, cannot stand loneliness, and love to be in society. It is important for them to be part of the company, have a large circle of friends, and participate in events.

Such individuals develop more easily as a person only in society, achieve success in the environment of people. In communication, they are not limited to routine phrases, but like to discuss in detail all issues of interest. People with a high level of affiliation feel uncomfortable with forced loneliness.


Low-level affiliation is characterized by a desire to keep in touch with a small circle of close friends, rather than making new contacts and developing relationships. Introverts in psychology are credited with precisely the low level. These are independent people who can easily do without communication. Such individuals experience discomfort and fatigue after long conversations, value personal space, do not get tired of being alone.


Affiliation in psychology is a fundamental aspiration of a person, since consciousness develops only in contact with one's own kind. The need for attachment manifests itself in all people, the motives of a person entering into communication with other individuals are different.Affiliation in psychology. What is it, definition, concept, motives

D. McClelland and J. Atkinson viewed affiliation as one of four motivational systems. The psychologist argued that the desire for affiliation, power and achievement reflect the social motives of communication, and the desire for avoidance is a manifestation of self-care, the need for security. The latter motive can negatively affect others, distorting them. For example, affiliation, in this case, will be expressed in the fear of rejection.

J. Asendorpf pointed out that the motivation of a person to come into contact with other people is not affected only expecting a positive response from a communication partner, and already learned experience of success in building relationships.

A. Mehrabian in his study of affiliation relied on a person's motivation when interacting with other people. This theory formed the basis of the methodology for studying the level of affiliation, which A. Mehrabian developed, in collaboration with S. Kzenski. In the questionnaire, the desire for communication is also considered either out of a desire for acceptance or out of fear of rejection.

The first motive expresses the expectation of mutual understanding, and the second - the fear of failure of communication. People who have a predominant fear of rejection are characterized by self-doubt and anxiety. The desire for affiliation arises in emotionally stable, socially active individuals.

4 types of motivation trends

Based on the methodology of A. Mehrabiana, psychologist Byrne et al. Identified 4 types of motivation tendencies depending on from a person's desire for contact and fear of rejection:

  1. A high level of need for affiliation and a low level of fear of rejection - a person satisfies the desire to make contacts. Sometimes this is expressed in excessive sociability.
  2. Low desire for contacts and strong fear of rejection - the need is not satisfied or not realized.
  3. Low need for affiliation and fear of rejection - the person prefers to remain lonely.
  4. Strong desire to establish a relationship and a high level of fear of rejection - communication ends with either goal achievement or failure. This type is characterized by an internal conflict, where a person wants to communicate, but deliberately avoids it.


Affiliation in psychology is not an ordinary emotional contact, but rather the recognition of an individual as a part of a whole - a society, a certain social group. The purpose of a person's entry into communication can be a desire to make an impression, establish power over other people, get help and support.

Researcher Hill identifies 4 reasons for making contact with other people:

  • getting praise and attention;
  • overcoming self-doubt through comparison;
  • getting positive emotions through communication;
  • receiving emotional support.Affiliation in psychology. What is it, definition, concept, motives

In 1980, a study was conducted on when people would like to be in the company of other people, and when - alone. So the desire to be in society prevailed in situations that give pleasure, for example, when playing sports, social events, as well as in case of threat or danger.

The desire to be alone was higher in unpleasant circumstances (if the person is irritated or upset) and in situations where it is necessary to show concentration (make an important decision, deal with a difficult problem).

Commitment to affiliation Causes
Social comparison Comparison of oneself and other people is the basis for a person to gain knowledge about himself. Only by contacting another person and exploring the similarities and differences, an individual can assess himself, the appropriateness of his behavior, the adequacy of judgments.
Reduced anxiety In threatening and unpleasant situations, people strive for contact in order to get sympathy, support, consolation
Search for information When children encounter something unfamiliar, they turn to adults in search of an answer about interacting with a new stimulus. Researchers Klinnert and Shaver have developed a theory based on child behavior, according to which adults are also looking for a person who can help them and provide the necessary information in a difficult position.


The need for attachment is formed in a child from birth. Being in an atmosphere of love, sympathy, acceptance forms a healthy, full-fledged personality. Psychologists say that a person deprived of affection grows up without a sense of attachment to society. Thus, an affiliate need arises in the family and is based on the style of family relationships.

The development of the need for communication goes through several stages:

  • the emergence of interest in the parent;
  • the manifestation of emotions in relation to the parent;
  • actions to attract the attention of the parent;
  • response emotions to the parent's attitude and reaction.

With age, the focus of the affiliate need shifts from parents and close adults to peers. The need for attachment reaches its peak in adolescence and adolescence, which is explained by the growth of self-awareness.

The need for affiliation is characteristic of the entire class of people, regardless of their age, gender, or race. However, the desire to connect is influenced by cultural characteristics, social conditions and upbringing.

Studies have shown that Westerners are more prone to feelings of loneliness and depression. In traditional cultures, large families are more common, where people are in an atmosphere of support, therefore, they are less likely to experience such conditions.

Affiliation in psychology. What is it, definition, concept, motives
Affiliation in psychology

The need for communication is called healthy if it is aimed at mutually beneficial relationships, their maintenance and development. There is also a painful desire for affiliation. He is characterized by a desire to support his own needs. If the need for affiliation remains unsatisfied, the person feels lonely, unhappy, and overwhelmed.

People with a healthy aspiration can tolerate communication deficits more easily, as they rely on the quality of emotional contact. Unhealthy affiliation impedes the development of relationships, does not show flexibility, as it has a one-sided focus.

According to gender studies of affiliation, men and women have different motives for contact. The first is more important understanding, ease of communication. But with age, the desire to interact with people in men decreases. The fair sex rely more on the emotional component - openness, vulnerability, warmth.


Affiliation in psychology is not a one-way process. The quality and nature of communication here depends on both participants in the interaction.

The process of establishing an affiliate link consists of several stages. First, a person needs to prove himself and express his desire to interact with another individual. So he shows the attractiveness of a possible communication partner, recognizes him as an equal to himself and invites him to enter into an equal relationship. Thus, affiliation is not a personal satisfaction of a need, but also assistance to a partner in this matter.

Often in communication there is a mismatch of roles when one of the participants in the process transforms partner as a means to fulfill their desires (for example, in getting help, superiority, humiliation). In this case, the affiliation suffers damage or is destroyed altogether.

To establish affiliation, it is necessary to achieve consonance in experiences from both sides, which will be an incentive to maintain communication. This way, emotional contact will feel like a supportive connection that brings satisfaction and a sense of self-worth. The goal of affiliation is not seen as seeking the love of another person. This is the desire for mutual friendly support, sympathy, acceptance.

To establish and maintain relationships, a person uses methods of verbal and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal ones include a smile, a friendly facial expression, eye contact, body language, and body position. Verbal includes the number and emotional coloring of speech utterances.

The primary motive for affiliation is its expected value. Based on experience, each individual builds the process of establishing a connection out of the hope of contact or from the fear of rejection. This experience characterizes communication. So in the course of contact, a person can feel light and at ease, friendly or timid, awkward or insecure.Affiliation in psychology. What is it, definition, concept, motives

Based on this, each new relationship building experience has a positive or negative expected value index. The more a person is confident of success, the easier it is to contact. Conversely, the more an individual fears failure, the more unattractive he sees interaction with people.

Thus, expectation affects the course of the interaction process, and its course affects the result. The repetition of successful or unsuccessful outcomes of communication forms a general picture of the desire for communication, which establishes the further positive or negative attractiveness of the contact. So the higher the expectation of success, the easier the process seems and the weaker its significance. Therefore, the higher the fear of rejection, the more difficult the task and the more valuable the success.

It should be noted that these categories are applicable in the case of initial contact with a stranger. In special cases, affiliation is influenced by expectations associated with communication with a specific individual with whom the subject is familiar or has information from him.

Knowledge of the interaction partner makes it possible to predict whether it will be easy or difficult to establish contact. For example, if the prospective partner has a higher status in society, even positive expectations may be jeopardized by fears of rejection. Fear, tension and stiffness may also appear, which will put the establishment of contact at risk of breakdown through the fault of the subject himself.

The structure of affiliate relations changes in the course of their development. At the beginning of a contact, emotional attractiveness is more important for the interlocutors. In the course of interaction, the level of trust in each other grows, and it is trust that becomes the basis of an affiliate relationship. Nevertheless, common interests of partners and joint activities are important to maintain relations.

With the destruction of affiliate ties with a specific person, the need to find a new subject of relations increases. If it is impossible to replace the lost connection, depressive tendencies or compensatory behavior (hobbies, communication with animals, nature) appear.

Thus, in psychology, affiliation is the desire to establish an emotional, trusting connection with another person. This connection gives support, understanding, a sense of belonging to society. But for the development and maintenance of relations, the mutual contribution of communication partners is necessary.

Affiliation Videos

Affiliation. What is it:

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