John A. Daly
Pamela O. Kreiser
University of Texas
People want others to like them. This desire is a basic, perhaps even defining, characteristic of humans. But, people also know they have to do certain things, act certain ways, to get others to like them. From early childhood on, people learn ways to develop and socially maintain relationships. What they do to accomplish these objectives is the focus of research on affinity seeking and maintenance. To understand how important affinity is, one only needs to imagine a person who lacks any skill at affinity seeking or maintenance: Would he or she have friends? Perhaps. But the more likely consequences are not so positive--loneliness, social powerlessness, and low self-esteem. In this chapter we review work done on the related constructs of affinity seeking and affinity maintenance. To forecast briefly the directions this chapter takes: First, we define affinity seeking and maintenance as active social processes that have at their heart communication. Then we describe a conceptual model of affinity seeking that provides a theoretic framework for understanding research on the topic. Third, we provide a brief review of the research on the various strategies that are incorporated into the construct of affinity. Finally we discuss potential directions for future research on affinity.
It is important to understand the nature of affinity research. For many years, scholars in a variety of disciplines have examined affinity seeking, but not under that label. Instead, researchers explored many of the components of affinity