Affiliation refers to the need to form attachments to other people for support, guidance, and protection.

The human need to form attachments with others is termed affiliation. In the hierarchy of needs outlined by Abraham Maslow (1908–70), the need for affiliation (or belongingness) appears exactly midway between basic physical needs and the highest-level need for self-actualization. Attachment is measured by several tests, one of which is the Thematic Apperception Test, a projective personality test developed by Henry Murray at Harvard University in 1935. During this test, a subject looks at a series of up to 20 pictures of people in a variety of settings and constructs a story about what is happening in each one. The need for affiliation (N-Aff) is scored when the subject's response to a picture expresses concern over “establishing, maintaining, or restoring a positive affective relationship with another person.”

Anxiety has been observed to strengthen one's need for affiliation. Women generally show a higher need for affiliation than men. Traditionally, affiliation has been negatively correlated with achievement, which means that often times individuals who prize connection with others value personal achievement less and vice versa. While achievement centers on self-improvement, affiliation focuses on concern for others, even to the extent of deliberately suppressing one's own competitive tendencies or accomplishments out of concern that they may make others uncomfortable.

See also Attachment ; Maslow, Abraham; Maslow's hierarchy of needs; Self-actualization ; Thematic apperception test .



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American Psychiatric Association, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 1825, Arlington, VA, 22209, (703) 907-7300, (888) 3577924),, .