Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Affiliation motivation

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Affiliation motivation:
What is affiliation motivation? What causes affiliation motivation and what are the impacts of affiliation motivation?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Isn’t it interesting how certain people love social interactions, whilst others crave being alone? How certain people have a large group of acquaintances and yet some choose just to have a few close friends? Have you ever wondered how a large group of people that oppose each other fiercely can suddenly come together and support each other in crisis? All of these questions can be answered whilst exploring affiliation motivation.

The aim of this chapter is understand the positive and negative aspects of affiliation motivation. This chapter will also shed light on some of the theories, the causes and the impacts that affiliation motivation have. Knowledge is power, or in this motivational case, knowledge is connection!

“…the need to belong is a powerful, fundamental,and extremely pervasive motivation. (Baumeister, 1995)”

The desire for affiliation with others has been described as a fundamental part of human nature (Wong & Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). But what is affiliation motivation? Affiliation motivation in the broad sense has been described by Atkinson & Walker (1956) as the motivation to establish, preserve and restore positive emotional relationships (Atkinson & Walker, 1956). This motivation directs the thoughts, behaviours and situations that are sought. Originally, the definition of affiliation motivation was conceptualised as the desire to avoid rejection or negative emotions (Atkinson & Walker,1956 ).

Theories[edit | edit source]

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[edit | edit source]

What creates motive? Where does the desire to move in a certain direction come from? McClelland defined motivation as anything that influenced 'the tendency to respond (McClelland, 1985). Abraham Maslow was the first to introduce the concept of social needs and the concept that motivation comes from the drive to fulfil certain needs. Contained in Maslows Heirarchy of needs, social needs are listed as the third most essential to human life. Many theorists agree that there are some needs that we are born with (innate) (Deci & Ryan,

Maslows Hierachy

1985). Take for instance, the base of Maslow’s Hierarchical Pyramid listing physiological needs such as food, water, sleep, sex etc. which are claimed to be the most basic of needs. Self-determination theory describes 3 innate psychological needs: competence, autonomy and psychological relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Social needs, however are not innate, and research suggests that social needs are acquired from your parents, social expectations and the environment (Elliot & Thrash, 2002). Veroff (Hill, 1989) also suggested that much like Jung's psychosocial theory, people experienced affiliation motivation at different stages in their lives. Experience via positive and negative reinforcement (Elliot & Thrash, 2002) teaches us which situations will gratify and fulfil our needs, and which will make us feel deprived and dejected. We tend to consciously and unconsciously seek out those situations in which we feel content, or in other words we are motivated to act in a way that will get us what we need us to act (McClelland,1985: Elliot & Thrash, 2002).

McClelland's Three-Need Theory[edit | edit source]

McClelland: Human Motivation Theory: Also called: The Three-Needs Theory, Motivational Needs Theory, Acquired Needs Theory and Learned Needs Theory. (Koestner & McClelland, 1992. Building on the work of Maslow, McClelland (1985) proposed a human motivation theory called the Three-Needs Theory, which discussed three dominant motivators of thought and behaviour. These are Achievement motivation, Power Motivation (sometimes authority) and Affiliation motivation, each with a different set of incentives, behaviours and characteristics. McClelland hypothesised that everyone embodies all of these needs to some degree, however only one of these is dominant and directs and motivates your behaviour (McClelland, 1985). This model is was created for use in the workplace to assess competency for managerial roles, and is still used for that purpose, and will be discussed later (Koestner & McClelland, 1992).

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

The characteristics of someone who has high Affiliation motivation ranges broadly from theory to theory, keeping within the context of interpersonal focus and relationship orientation. The original research regarding Affiliation motivation defined Affiliation motivation as the fear of rejection. This person embodies the need for approval, is deemed unpopular by peers, comes across as needy, is always checking their social status with others and needs stable interpersonal relationships (Atkinson & Walker, 1956). However, as research found the definition lacking, and too reductionist, other characteristics and dimensions were added. There have been several theories suggesting that Affiliation motivation is a multidimensional model in which the characteristics differ somewhat. McClelland (1985) proposes several characteristics, that are less negative and more neutral. He suggested that the individual whose dominant motivation is affiliation motivation tends to want to belong, dislikes uncertainty, prefers cooperation and is likely to agree with group decisions (Koestner & McClelland, 1992 ) (See figure).

Extensive research has extrapolated several characteristics of people who are affiliation motivated (French & Chadwick, 1956);

  • They see friends more frequently
  • Are more likely to elect themselves to work with less competent friends rather than competent stranger (showing motivation towards cooperation rather than competition)
  • They decide to marry a lot earlier
  • They do more positive things
  • They were more anxious when rated for likeability by their friends (regardless of sex)
  • They were also less likely to make negative comments about other people (McAdams & Constantian, 1983)

Theories and measures[edit | edit source]

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Hill's 4 Component Theory[edit | edit source]

Hill’s Multidimensional Contemporary model: Many further studies show that Affiliation can be further broken down into different dimensions. Hill (1989) used Contantians studies, which will be mentioned in more detail a little later, as well as others to determine four different dimensions to affiliation motivation. While there are too many theories to list, the contemporary model of Affiliation motivation encompasses the theory that there are many reasons people are motivated to affiliate with each other. Hill proposed that there are 4 different but interrelated desires for interpersonal closeness and intimacy, and different situations would present different incentives for each of the 4 different affiliative components (Baumeister & Leary, 1995).

  • Social comparison,
  • Emotional support
  • Positive stimulation
  • Attention (Hill, 1989).

Thematic Apperception Test[edit | edit source]

The measurement used to test theories on Affiliation motivation and support it with empirical evidence was the Thematic Apperception Test. The Thematic Apperception Test was created by Henry Murray, to explore the underlying personality themes, past experiences as well as conscious or unconscious motives (Hill, 1989). The Thematic Apperception Test is a projective test in which the individual partaking in the study observes a picture and is asked to write a story about what they think is happening in the picture. Generally, certain underlying motives and themes will be projected onto the ambiguous picture and once analysed they can be determined. The projection would be unconscious as the participants would not realise they were divulging sensitive, personal information when they were creating a story (Anderson, 1999). This test is used to detect high or low affiliation motivation and has been used in a multitude of studies. The main characteristics measured in the TAT where; concern about approval from others, and a concern for praise and approval from others. Murray determined 27 unconscious needs which he called psychogenic needs, however McClelland consolidated them into his Three-needs theory.

Constantian's Self-Report[edit | edit source]

Constantian (Hill, 1989) devised a questionnaire, after using a TAT to distinguish between participants with high vs. low affiliation motivation to test the rate at which students were being social vs. when they were alone. The results showed several interesting discoveries. Constantian et al (Hill, 1989) showed that it is just as common to find people who like to be both alone and with others an equal amount, in high and low affiliation categories as well as one state of another. The results also showed that despite affiliation score, females tended to be more social than men. These results reiterated the findings that affiliation motivation is not one-tiered, (McClelland, 1985). Therefore there was a need to expand the previous definition of Affiliation Motivation.

Interpersonal Orientation Scale (IOS)[edit | edit source]

Hill (1989) developed a scale called the Interpersonal Orientation Scale (IOS) to measure the 4 different components of affiliation motivation. He defined each dimension as a way to determine which aspect was most gratifying for different individuals.

There was: social comparison (participating in activities to compare self’s performance with other individuals. The attention dimension, in which the individual is central to activities or environment. There was emotional support, needing others or wanting others to be present when stressed, anxious or distraught, and positive stimulation, including close friendships and spending time with others or in a group. (Decker, Calo & Weer, 2012). Each component is tested via reading a vignette to the participant and seeing which they identify with the most, seeing where the incentive value is for each individual in each situation and seeing which is dominant. Whichever incentive value is most dominant with effect the behaviour of the individual the most.

However, research has showed that as opposed to achievement or power/authority motivation, affiliation is the only motivator of the 3 that has anything to do with psychological adjustment (McAdams & Valliant, 1982).

Contemporary: Approach Avoid[edit | edit source]

Another aspect of affiliation motivation to consider is what positively or negatively reinforces the behaviour, leading to continued motivation. Mehrabian devised a self-report method, again branching from the TAT to determine whether an individual was motivated by an affiliative tendency or the fear of rejection (returning to the original definition of affiliation) (Elliot & Thrash, 2002). The characteristics defined for people high on affiliative tendency tended to be less anxious, produced more positive affect, were more self-confidant and in social comparison, saw themselves as somewhat similar to others, were relaxed, spontaneous and were open in their behaviour to others (Elliot & Thrash, 2002). This positive affiliation motivation encouraged individuals to approach situations in which they would feel fulfilled. With the approach affiliation motivation, individuals tend to partake in opportunities to participate with other but will not pursue them. Conversely, people high on fear of rejection are more likely to behave in a way that avoids rejection and loneliness. Not being as easy going as their approach counterpart, the fear of rejection individual is needy, constantly needing reassurance, highly anxious and stressed, being less confidant, more confidant and judged as negatived by others. Studies suggest that for each of these 2 motivations there are neurobiological differences, and therefore different outcomes from the affiliation motivation behaviour.

What causes affiliation motivation?[edit | edit source]

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Physiological[edit | edit source]

Hormones play a significant role in human motivation. For instance, cortisol, the stress hormone has a very important role in emotional processing in humans, just as testosterone influences dominance and aggression. Certain mental disorders can over or underuse these hormones. Progesterone, which effects women with pre-menstrual syndrome and is found lacking in depressed and anxious patients can encourage affiliation motivation. Research shows that progesterone plays a part in the feeling of panic when feeling separation distressed, connected to the avoidance aspect of affiliation motivation (Wirth & Schultheiss, 2006). The release of Oxytocin, responsible for the tend-and-befriend response is also thought to play a part in affiliation motivation. Evolutionary psychologists claim that humans are meant to be part of a pack and when isolated cortisol is produced because in our primitive days, loneliness or being alone meant imminent danger. On the other hand, in times of danger or stress, oxytocin is released when humans support, connect and be near each other relieving the anxiety. These hormonal reactions show a functional aspect of affiliation motivation. (Wirth & Schultheiss, 2006) So in summary, stress leads to progesterone release, which activates affiliation motivation, and when the affiliation with others is obtained, oxytocin is released relieving the anxiety and bonding the closeness. (Taylor, 2006). Neurological studies show that fear of rejection when activated in a human leads to an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) however, this reaction is much larger and faster in an individual who rates highly on affiliation motivation (Taylor, 2006). Affiliation motivation condition that is sourced from fear of rejection can feel, to the individual, like a need such as food, sex, water and other physiological drives (Taylor, 2006).

Does affiliation motivation affect boys and girls differently?[edit | edit source]

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Gender[edit | edit source]

Well, studies suggest that yes it does. Evolutionary psychologist hypothesised that the reason we react differently to stress, and release different hormones could be thousands and millions of years with segregated traditional gender roles. This effect is still prevalent today, with studies monitoring social interaction show that women spend more time with their friends than men, regardless of affiliation motivation. In the caveman days, women were responsible for looking after the children. Therefore, there is what has been termed the tend-and-befriend response in which, under times of stress, women band together, self-disclose and share resources in times of need (Taylor, 2006). Therefore, it may be genetic that women consistently are more highly affiliatevly motivated than men. Another clue to the accuracy of this observation is that Estrogen strongly enhances the effect of oxytocin (the tend-and-befriend hormone). So what sex differences have studies uncovered?

  • Women are two times more likely to ruminate about relationships and think about others than men (Wong & Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).
  • Statistics show that women rate consistently higher on Hills multidimensional model in 2 components: emotional support and positive stimulation (Hill, 1989)
  • Studies show that male affiliative motivate has been described as a fear of rejection in more cases than women, due to a strong desire to socialise with others without knowing how to go about it. The same study shows that women’s affiliative motive is better described as positive enjoyment, due to positive experience and a higher intimacy motivation than men (Wong & Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).

There are also sex differences in expression of affiliation motivation. Men are more interested in common activities and yet women are more motivated to self-disclose and share in relationships (Wang & Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). It has also been shown that women develop earlier competence in developing intimate relationships, and are more capable of experiencing intimacy (Wang). When compared with men, the interactions between women in a same same-sex relationships appeared to be more pleasant, satisfying, meaningful, and involved more disclosure by either partner.

Gender roles[edit | edit source]

Gender roles were mentioned earlier however, they exert some influence over the behaviour of men and women and the expression of Affiliation motivation. It has been said they regulate behaviour in 2 ways: Firstly, they implement behavioural expectations of each sex. For example; men don’t cry, they are an island. Or women are emotional, needy. The second way that gender roles influence behaviour is that when in a particular situation, you learn a certain skill set and learn beliefs that relate to those roles (Wong & Csikszentmihalyi, 1991) Most societies advocate certain roles or each gender, certain obligations, rights, correct ways of conduct and expression. It has been argued that we live in a more equal or egalitarian society but statistics still show that women are seen as more sociable, friendly, warm gentle and community focused, whereas men are seen as more agentic, and are seen to be assertive, dominant, independent and more likely to be aggressive (Baumeister & Leary, 1995).

What impact does affiliation motivation have on how you see the world?[edit | edit source]

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Perception[edit | edit source]

Our perception is how we see and evaluate the world. How does affiliation motivation affect the way that you see and interpret your surroundings? Your primary motivation tends to focus your perception, for instance people who are achievement motivated have shown a quick reaction in the TAT test to achievement related words, more so than any other words (French & Chadwick, 1956). Likewise, when motivated by affiliation, studies conducted by Atkinson (1956) show that you are more likely to see faces in non-human objects.

Intuition[edit | edit source]

Affiliation motivation is the only social need motivated by the maintenance of relationships, and therefore the only motivation that can predict social adjustment. A skill, or in fact a tool generally attributed to someone with affiliation motivation is good intuition. The affiliation motivation tendency, rather than the fear of rejection motivational dimension. Intuition has been defined as a process of judgement, underlying decisions and perceptions that remains largely unconscious (Quiren, Düsing & Kuhl, 2013). Also referred to as the gut feeling, intuition is useful when complex situations need to be assessed and when careful analysis cannot present a logical route of action. It has been said that intuition guides most of us in daily life, and is ‘the rule rather than the exception’ (Quiren et al, 2013). Due to constant focus on establishing, maintaining and restoring positive relationships, it stands to reason that people who are affiliatively motivated have the best intuition. Majority of these intuitive judgements are made in social situations, by the process of self-concept, verbal and non-verbal signals from the other person and previous experiences. It makes sense that of the 3 motivational needs, Affiliation motivation is the best at this type of processing, as this sort of processing is imperative for smooth and successful social interactions (Quiren et al, 2013). Studies have shown that trying to systematically analyse how a decision or judgement was reached by deconstructing the intuition, it can completely corrupt the process. As they say, go with your gut!

How does affiliation motivation affect you in the workplace?[edit | edit source]

So how can all this knowledge about Affiliation motivation benefit you? Well in several ways really, aside from the ways already mentioned. We spend so much of our lives in a working environment, whether it be as a student or part of a work team. It could be very beneficial for you to understand your leadership style, the motivational style of your staff and co-workers, and even the optimum environment and relationships for you as a student. Employers have been using the Thematic Apperception Test to detect if an employee (or potential employee) is motivated by Affiliation, Achievement or Power (Decker, Calo & Weer, 2012)

Several characteristics of people with high Affiliation motivation in a workplace are:

  • A strong need to be liked, therefore if put in a leadership position, the ability to make decisions may be difficult (McClelland, 1985)
  • With a high need to feel accepted, they tend to conform to work norms without much fuss
  • Do extremely well in customer service jobs, where there is opportunities for rapport
  • Employees work best in a cooperative environment
  • Do well in small group projects and collaborations

Knowing how you are socially motivated can help you choose the most fulfilling career, in which you get the most gratification, depending on how strong your needs are in each of the 4 components. For example: As stated previously, people who affiliatively motivated seek different situations in which they receive gratification and where they thrive. There are different dimensions and different strengths in which different people react behaviourally to their preferred and most fulfilling aspect. Studies conducted in the US showed there is little interest in entrepreneurial skills due to the lack of emotional support and lack of genuine relationships in many of these positions. Studies in the US show that Hill’s multidimensional model with the 4 different components of affiliation motivation break down the recommended careers (Decker, Calo & Weer, 2012) It has been shown that people who are motivated by emotional support are more inclined to work in counselling, psychology settings or in community services. Whereas statistics show that people who rate highly on the social interaction scale but do not depend on it do very well in entrepreneurial roles. It has been shown the best entrepreneurial candidate scores high on self-comparison and attention, but does not significantly score on need for emotional support positive-affect or (Decker, Calo & Weer 2012) Studies have also been conducted involving student motivational style It has been found that for affiliation motivation, the optimum learning environment is a warm, caring and concerned lecturer or tutor willing to interact personally with students (Elliot & Thrash, 2002)

If you are affiliated motivated, how can you improve your situation?[edit | edit source]

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Compassion focused therapy[edit | edit source]

So, what do you do if you find that you are in fact the fear of rejection affiliative type, and the sort of feelings and behaviour you experience are causing you distress? There is a therapy called compassion-focussed therapy that will help you self-soothe and alleviate some of your feelings of anxiety and rejection (Gilbert, 2009). Compassion-focused therapy relies on the concept that the source of the negative or avoidance affiliation motivation is when attachment to a parental figure or guardian has had negative consequences, and the mammalian ability for compassion and comfort can be pointed inwards to self-soothing and become more independent and growth-orientated in your behaviour. The Dalai Lama himself recommends compassion for connection with yourself and others (Gilbert, 2009). Compassion focused therapy takes the principles of 1000’s of years of eastern philosophy and constructs them into psychological principles that can be applied to treat the neuropsychological side-effects of negative affiliation motivation, such as the previously mentioned cortisol response.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

This chapter identified the causes, influences and incentives of affiliation motivation. Affiliation motivation is multi-faceted and the same incentives and characteristics are not present in everyone who has Affiliation Motivation. There has proven to be evolutionary causes and benefits for this kind of motivation, as well as neurological differences in the expression. There has also shown to be sex differences in the expression of high Affiliation motivation. The topic of gender is not so clear cut however, as the influence of gender roles need to be considered. Affiliation motivation also affects basic functioning such as Perception, Intuition and Memory. The Three-Needs Theory by McClelland (1985) was originally designed for assessing motivation in the workplace and is still widely used to analyse a productive working environment and positive career choices for people of each motivational type. The negative side to Affiliation motivation, i.e. fear of rejection and the self-defeating behaviour that it elicits can be treated with Compassion-Focussed therapy, addressing the neurobiological reactions causing the behaviour by reframing the motivation and changing the reinforcers.

References[edit | edit source]

Anderson, J. W. (1999). Henry A. Murray and the Creation of the Thematic Apperception Test. In L. Gieser & M. I. Stein (Eds.), Evocative Images: The Thematic Apperception Test, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Atkinson, J. W., & Walker, E. L. (1956). The affiliation motive and perceptual sensitivity to faces. The Journal Of Abnormal And Social Psychology, 53(1), 38-41

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong:Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.

Decker, W. H., Calo, T. J., & Weer, C. H. (2012). Affiliation motivation and interest in entrepreneurial careers. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 27(3), 302-320.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Self‐Determination. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2002). Approach-avoidance motivation in personality: approach and avoidance temperaments and goals. Journal of personality and social psychology, 82(5), 804.

French, E. G., & Chadwick, I. (1956). Some characteristics in affiliation motivation. The Journal Of Abnormal And Social Psychology, 52(3), 296-300

Gilbert, P. (2009). Introducing compassion-focused therapy. Advances in psychiatric treatment, 15(3), 199-208.

Hill, C. A. (1987). Affiliation motivation: People who need people… but in different ways. Journal of personality and social psychology, 52(5), 1008

Koestner, R., & McClelland, D. C. (1992). The affiliation motive.

McAdams, D. P., & Constantian, C. A. (1983). Intimacy and affiliation motives in daily living: An experience sampling analysis. Journal of personality and social psychology, 45(4), 851.

McAdams, D. P., & Vaillant, G. E. (1982). Intimacy Motivation and Psychosocial Adjustment: A Longitudinal Study. Journal Of Personality Assessment, 46(6), 586

McClelland, D. C. (1985). How motives, skills, and values determine what people do. American Psychologist, 40(7), 812.

Quirin, M., Düsing, R., & Kuhl, J. (2013). Implicit affiliation motive predicts correct intuitive judgment. Journal Of Individual Differences, 34(1)

Sokolowski, K., Schmalt, H., Langens, T. A., & Puca, R. M. (2000). Assessing Achievement, Affiliation, and Power Motives All at Once: The Multi-Motive Grid (MMG). Journal Of Personality Assessment, 74(1), 126-145

Taylor, S. E. (2006). Tend and Befriend Biobehavioral Bases of Affiliation Under Stress. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(6), 273-277.

Wirth, M. M., & Schultheiss, O. C. (2006). Effects of affiliation arousal (hope of closeness) and affiliation stress (fear of rejection) on progesterone and cortisol. Hormones and Behavior, 50(5), 786-795.

Wong, M. M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Affiliation motivation and daily experience: Some issues on gender differences. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 60(1), 154-164.

External links[edit | edit source]