In search of the true group animal: the effects of affiliation orientation and social comparison orientation upon group satisfaction



A study among 653 undergraduate students examined the effects upon group satisfaction of social comparison orientation (Gibbons & Buunk, 1999) and affiliation orientation, i.e. the preference for doing things together and in groups versus a preference for doing things alone. Affiliation orientation correlated positively with extraversion and agreeableness, and social comparison orientation correlated negatively with emotional stability and openness to experience. A multi-level analysis showed that individual level variance in group satisfaction was explained by an interaction effect of affiliation orientation and social comparison orientation: a high level of affiliation orientation was associated with high group satisfaction of individual group members, but only among those low in social comparison orientation. Among those high in social comparison orientation, a high level of affiliation orientation was even associated, though not very strongly, with low group satisfaction. These effects were upheld when simultaneously controlling for all ‘Big Five’ personality dimensions. It was concluded that the typical ‘group animal’ is someone who has a strong preference for affiliation, combined with a low tendency to compare him- or herself with others. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.