J. Social Psychology 1995, 135(4), 519-521.


J.J. Ray

School of Sociology, University of N.S.W., Australia


G.P. Hall

IQ Solutions Nationwide, Brisbane, Australia

There seems to be some consensus in the social psychology textbooks that some form of ethnocentrism, stereotyping or group identification is virtually universal (Brown, 1986). One theory that would seem to explain this universality is that of Park (1950), who proposed that a preference for the familiar and the "like me" underlay group identification. We like best those who are familiar and similar to us because we can understand them best and they are generally more predictable by us. Park saw this as a common human process linked to basic needs.

There are however a large range of possible human needs and, looking at Murray's (1938) list, there are many which could possibly affect degree of group identification. One candidate is need for affiliation (n-Aff): would not group identification be strongest among those who had a need for it? Group Identification and group affiliation could in fact be seen as nearly synonymous. Is not affiliation merely a weaker form and perhaps a precursor to identification? On the other hand, if a person is truly affiliative, perhaps this excludes him from rejecting almost anyone. Perhaps affiliators are the very people who cannot reject anyone -- including members of other groups. The status of the affiliation motive in the formation of group identification and group preference is then not at all obvious a- priori.

Here, then, is an attempt to examine whether the need for affiliation predicts identification with the group. The study was carried out in the Australian State of Queensland, the warmer climate of which may attract persons from other areas of the country; hence the sample consisted of persons living in Queensland but not born there. We were interested in the problem of how well the immigrants were integrating into the Queensland population and wanted to be able to predict successes and failures -- hopefully via n-Aff.

The scale adopted to measure n-Aff was the relevant subscale from the Jackson (1967) "PRF". The scale to measure group identification was written to reflect local conditions in Queensland and asked questions such as: "Do you now see yourself as a Queenslander?", "Do you now see Queensland as "Home"?", "Do you now prefer Queenslanders to other people?" etc.

Both scales were included in a CAPI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interview) survey being carried out in major shopping centres within the Brisbane area (i.e. in South East Queensland). With CAPI methodology, the respondent interacts with a computer rather than with a human interviewer. Such sampling is representative enough to receive routine use in commercial market research.

There were 191 respondents who answered the two scales. Both scales functioned well psychometrically. Their reliabilities (Cronbach's alpha) were respectively .77 (n-Aff) and .76 (Identification with Queensland). The latter figure indicates relatively high internal consistency given that the scale consisted of only 10 items.

The mean score of the Identification scale was 32.55 (SD = 7.26). As each scale item had five response options, the scale midpoint is 30 (10*3), hence the mean indicates that respondents tended on balance to identify with Queensland. The n-Aff scale items were scored True=1; False=2; Don't Know= 1.5, so the mean score on the n-Aff scale of 34.22 (SD = 3.31) is more than a standard deviation above the midpoint of 30 (20*1.5) and indicates that respondents tended to be affiliative.

The correlation between the two scales was .087 (ns). Neither affiliation motive nor Queensland Identification showed any significant correlations with age, sex, or education. Affiliation motive, then, showed no overall relationship with group identification, a finding that also emerged in a previous study of immigrants coming into Australia (Scott & Scott, 1982), and hence again offers evidence contrary to what might be theorized.


Brown, R.(1986) Social psychology (2nd. ed.) New York: Free Press.

Jackson, D.N. (1967) Personality research form manual New York: Research Psychologists Press.

Murray, H.A. (1938) Explorations in personality New York: Oxford.

Park, R.E. (1950) Race and culture Glencoe, IL: Free Press

Scott, W.A. & Scott, R. (1982) Ethnicity, interpersonal relations and adaptation among families of European migrants to Australia. Australian Psychologist 17, 165-170.

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