Spending time on social ties

29.01.2021

Each human being is unique and unrepeatable, but there are some guidelines that allow us to group different personalities.

Sociotropy is one of them . Next we will discover what this concept consists of, what psychological implications are behind it and what it is being related to. We will also delve into different studies carried out to know this phenomenon.

What is sociotropy?

Sociotropy could be defined as a personality pattern in which there is a quality that stands out above the rest. This is none other than an evident propensity to dedicate most of the time and resources to relationships with equals to the point that such behavior ceases to be natural and becomes pathological . Behind this behavior would be hidden an extreme need to gain acceptance from others.

Those individuals who fit into the framework of sociotropy tend to show behaviors of excessive affection towards other people with whom in reality they do not have such a close relationship that such behavior is socially appropriate. Therefore, that would be a good indicator to consider whether said subject would be suffering from this condition.

According to some studies, it has been found that there is a gender difference in the prevalence of sociotropy. In this sense, the data seem to show that women are more likely to experience this condition than men . In addition, it has been found that this condition also affects the subject's self-control.

For this reason, when a person is sociotropic, they tend to manage their behaviors under the premise of external approval and not of their own control, so they could carry out excess behaviors if they think they are pleasing their peers, as this factor will have much more weight for her than the possible personal consequences of such acts.

Likewise, it has also been proven that sociotropy could be related to trauma experienced in the past by the individual who suffers it, and also to stressful situations of an interpersonal nature , that is, that which has to do with relationships with other individuals. All these factors can influence the possibility of the person developing depression in the future, as we will see next.

The scale of sociotropy and autonomy

If we consider sociotropy as the end of a scale, on the other side of this axis we could place the autonomy of the subject. Therefore, sociotropy would be the total absence of autonomy in a person . In fact, the emblematic psychiatrist, Aaron Temkin Beck, proposed the so-called sociotropy-autonomy scale, known as SAS.

Beck developed this tool because he believed that both extremes could correlate with depression. In this sense, both excessive social dependence, which would be sociotropy, and the search for total independence, which would be autonomy taken to the extreme, can be pathological indicators that, according to Beck, would have a relationship with the depression disorder.

To create the SAS test, a psychometric study was carried out that finally provided three different factors to be able to measure sociotropy. The first of these would have to do with the concern generated in the subject by not being socially approved , which includes elements such as social pressure to fit into certain roles.

The second would refer to the concern that arises in this person for wanting to approach others socially , taking into account that there is always a degree of uncertainty about how they will react.

Finally, we would find a desire to constantly please other people , which would be the third factor of the SAS to measure sociotropy.

Similarly, to measure autonomy, that is, the other extreme, three factors were also obtained that the items of the questionnaire would be in charge of measuring. The first of all would estimate what the performance of the person would be like in an autonomous way, without the need for external help.

The following would correspond to the degree to which this subject moves away from the control of the other individuals . Finally, the factor with which the SAS would be completed would be the one that would be measuring the person's desire to be alone instead of being accompanied. Those are the six factors, three that measure sociotropy and three that measure autonomy, that would complete this scale.

Over the years, this tool has evolved . To date, there are only two factors that would be measuring sociotropy. The first of them corresponds to the feeling of need, and it is also the factor that would correlate with depressive symptoms. The second is connectivity, referring to the assessment that the person makes of their relationship with others.

Relationship of sociotropy with depression

We have already anticipated that authors like Beck discovered the relationship that sociotropy had with other pathologies, especially with depression. In this sense, the data seem to indicate that sociotropy would be a personality pattern with which, statistically speaking, the subject would have a greater probability of suffering depression in the future , provided that the conditions for it were met.

Does this mean that all people who fall within the sociotropy will suffer from depression at some point in their lives? No. What these studies affirm is that these people are more likely to have this disease than those who are not in the sociotropy group.

The next thing we could ask ourselves is what is the reason for this greater probability of having depression. Researchers have hypothesized that sociotropic people maintain their self-esteem in relationships with other individuals , hence they need that constant approval from their peers. The point is, when these people experience the breakdown of a social relationship, what is automatically damaging by extension is their own self-esteem.

This causes people with sociotropy to experience a much deeper sense of loss than a more autonomous person, when they see a relationship with another individual disappear. This experience of loss and abandonment will fully affect the self-esteem of the subject and will cause that increase in the probability of suffering a depression that we saw before.

Research on sociotropy

According to the psychological research that has been carried out, some authors place the origin of sociotropy in a combination of introverted personality traits coupled with limited assertiveness capacities . What this causes is that the person in question orients his behaviors to satisfy others. He prefers it before generating a hypothetical situation that implies his abandonment.

Logically, another important factor when generating sociotropy is the shyness traits of the person . In fact, such important characteristics of sociotropic individuals such as fear of being rejected by other subjects or a dependence on relationships with others, come largely from this trait.

Research with the Beck SAS scale revealed an issue to consider. When we are studying subjects who, in addition to being included in sociotropy, are also included in shyness, we find the paradox that these people are having a deep inner conflict, since a part of them pushes them to get closer to others and establish relationships while another promotes just the opposite.

For these people, their shyness makes them have problems to be able to relate to others, but sociotropy, at the same time, forces them to do so , since they need social approval. It is, therefore, a particularly exhausting situation, since they are constantly falling into an internal struggle that directs their behaviors and in which there is always a part that does not agree with the choice of them.

In these cases, it seems that the conclusions reached in the studies carried out pointed to the possibility that sociotropy also had an important role as a predictor of a negative symptomatology that has to do with situations in which the person requires use of assertiveness or have to engage in conversations with other subjects, as these are events in which these two parts of their personality collide.

There have also been studies in which sociotropy seems to predict a high level of anxiety in the person. It is logical to think that a person who dedicates a great amount of resources to trying to make their interpersonal relationships satisfactory for others is going to tend to experience great anxiety due to this whole process.

Indeed, these studies showed a positive correlation between anxiety and sociotropy in a variety of situations of a social nature , that is, in which both that individual and another and the relationships between them are involved.

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