Each human being is unique and irreplaceable, but certain guidelines allow us to group different personalities.
Sociotropy is one of them. Next, we’ll find out what this concept is, what are the psychological implications behind it, and what it is related to. We will also deepen various studies carried out to understand this phenomenon.
What is sociotropy?
Sociotropy could be defined as a personality pattern in which there is a quality that stands out from the rest. It’s nothing but obvious propensity to devote most of your time and resources to peer relationships to the point where this behavior ceases to be natural and becomes pathological. Behind this behavior lies an extreme need to gain the acceptance of others.
Individuals who fit into the framework of sociotropy often show disproportionate affectionate behaviors towards other people with whom they do not actually have such a close relationship that they make that behavior socially appropriate. Therefore, it would be a good indicator to determine if such a subject would suffer from this condition.
According to some studies, it has been found that there is a gender difference in the prevalence of sociotropia. In this sense, the data seems to throw women are more likely to suffer from this disease than men. Additionally, this condition has been found to affect the subject’s self-control as well.
Therefore, when a person is sociotropic, they tend to manage their behaviors under the premise of external approval and not self-control, so that they might engage in excessive behaviors if they believe they are complacent towards them. her peers, because this factor will carry much more weight for her than the possible personal consequences of these acts.
Likewise, it has also been proven that sociotropy could be linked to traumas experienced in the past by the individual suffering from it, as well as to situations of interpersonal stressIn other words, it has to do with relationships with other people. All of these factors can influence a person’s chances of developing depression in the future, as we will discuss below.
The scale of sociotropy and autonomy
If we considered sociotropy as the end of a scale, on the other side of this axis, we could place the subject’s autonomy. So, sociotropy would be the total absence of autonomy in a person. In fact, iconic psychiatrist Aaron Temkin Beck came up with the so-called Sociotropy-Autonomy Scale, known as SAS.
Beck developed this tool because he believed that the two extremes could be correlated 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 which, according to Beck, are related to the trouble. depression.
To create the SAS test, a psychometric study was performed that ultimately provided three different factors to be able to measure sociotropy. The first of these would have to do with concern about not being socially approved, Which includes elements such as social pressure to fit into certain roles.
The second would refer to the agitation that occurs in this person wanting to socially approach the neighbor, Since there is always some degree of uncertainty about how you are going to react.
Finally we would find a desire to constantly please others, Which would be the third factor of the SAS to measure sociotropy.
Likewise, to measure autonomy, that is to say the other extreme, three factors were also obtained that the items of the questionnaire would be responsible for measuring. First of all, I would love what the performance of the person would be like on a standalone basis, without the need for outside help.
The following would correspond to ‘ 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 what would measure the person’s desire to be alone instead of being accompanied. It is the six factors, three that measure sociotropy and three that measure autonomy, that would complete this scale.
Over the years, this tool has evolved. Today, there are only two factors that would measure sociotropy. The first corresponds to the feeling of need and is also the factor which would be correlated with the depressive symptoms. The second is that of connectivity, referring to the assessment that the person makes of his relationship with others.
Relationship of sociotropy with depression
We have already anticipated that authors like Beck would discover the relationship that sociotropia had with other pathologies, in particular with depression. In this sense, the data seem to indicate that sociotropy would be a personality model with which, statistically speaking, the subject would be more likely to suffer from depression in the future, Provided that the conditions are met.
Does this mean that all people who fall into sociotropia will experience depression at some point in their life? No. What these studies claim is that these people are more likely to suffer from this condition than those who are not in the sociotropia group.
The next thing we might ask ourselves is why this increased likelihood of depression is due. The researchers hypothesized that sociotropic people maintain their self-esteem in their relationships with other peopleFor this reason, they need this constant approval from their peers. The point is, when these people experience a failed social relationship, what is automatically damaging by extension is their own self-esteem.
This causes people with sociotropy to feel a much deeper sense of loss than a more independent person, when they see a relationship with another person disappear. This experience of loss and abandonment will fully affect the subject’s self-esteem and cause that increase in the likelihood of suffering from depression that we have seen before.
According to the psychological investigations which have been carried out, some authors locate the origin of sociotropy in a combination of severed introverts personality traits coupled with limited assertiveness abilities. This causes the person in question to orient their behavior to satisfy others. He prefers it before generating a hypothetical situation which implies its abandonment.
Of course, another important factor in the generation of sociotropia is the shy features of the person. In fact, such important characteristics of sociotropic individuals as the fear of being rejected by other subjects or a dependence on relationships with others, derive in large part from this trait.
Research with Beck’s SAS scale revealed an issue to consider. When we study subjects that in addition to being included in sociotropy also do so in shyness, we find the paradox that these people would have a deep inner conflict, because some of them push them to get closer to others and to building relationships while another favors just the opposite.
To these people, their shyness makes them find it difficult to relate to their neighbor, but sociotropy forces them to do so at the same time., As they need social approval. It is therefore a particularly trying situation, because they constantly fall into an internal struggle which guides their behavior and in which there is always a party which does not agree with the choice of the same.
In these cases, it seems that the conclusions of the studies carried out have pointed to the possibility that sociotropy has also played an important role as a predictor of negative symptoms related to situations in which the person needs assertiveness or he has to engage in conversations with other subjects, as these are events in which these two of the parts of his personality collide.
Studies have also been done in which sociotropy seems to predict a high level of anxiety in the person. It is logical to think that a person who devotes a lot of resources to trying to make their interpersonal relationships satisfactory for others tends to experience great anxiety because of this whole process.
Indeed, these studies have shown a positive correlation between anxiety and sociotropia in various social situationsThat is, in which both this individual and another and the relationships between them are involved.
- Castellón, J. (2000). Analysis of the concept of emotional dependence. I Virtual Congress of Psychiatry.
- Fernández-Rei, J., Madrid, HM, Pardo-Vázquez, JL (2004). Bias in processing emotional information in sociotropic individuals. Psychotheme.
- Toro, RA, Arias, HA, Avella, S. (2013). Sociotropic and autonomic congruent information processing in subjects presenting symptoms of depression and anxiety. Revista Vanguardia Psicològica Clínica Teórica i Práctica.
- Toro, RA, Arias, HA, Sarmiento, JC (2016). Sociotropy and Autonomy: Evidence for the Symptom Specificity Hypothesis of Depression? Clinical Psychology.