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Thursday, January 13, 2011

T3 - Character Motivations, Part 2

This week we're looking at the second motivation as identified by psychologist David McClelland, the Need for Affiliation (N-Affil)

If you missed the first part of this new series for writers, click here for the Need for Power (N-Pow).

This second category deals with the people who are social by nature. Affiliation can be defined as a positive, sometimes intimate, personal relationship. These are the people love being a part of a group and are friendly to others. They crave human interaction and want to be liked by everyone they meet. It drives them crazy when someone dislikes them and they don't know why.

They always want to be in harmony with others, so as a result, can often be conformist and reluctant to stand out. These are not competitive people. Most likely, they stick with whatever norms have been established by whatever group of which they are a part. They want approval, rather than recognition, and it's that approval which motivates them the most.

High N-Affil individuals prefer work that provides significant personal interaction. They perform well in customer service and client interaction situations and do best in a cooperative, cohesive environment where they can be a supportive team player. They often make poor managers or leaders because their ability to be objective is impaired by their high need to be popular and liked. A person with High N-Affil placed in a leadership role might avoid making unpopular decisions, permit exceptions to rules, and show favoritism to friends.

Some situations bring out the N-Affil greater than others. For example, take the weeks and months following the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center. Americans put their differences aside and came together in a time of great distress. In general, situations that lead to fear cause people to want to be together, as well as events of high stress.

It should be noted that people who are high N-Affil don't necessarily have to be with other people all the time. Ideally, they strive for just the right balance between time to their self and time spent with others. If that balance isn't being met satisfactorily, then the person will be more motivated to adjust it one way or the other.

If you know someone who would blow off studying for an exam because they value a relationship more than the grade, they are likely High N-Affil. If you know someone who is uncomfortable socializing with others--minus close friends and family, perhaps--then they are low N-Affil.

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