Sociotropy is defined as a combination of beliefs, behavioural tendencies and attitudes that lead a person to attend to and depend on others for personal satisfaction. Highly sociotropic individuals are characterized as emphasizing interpersonal interactions involving relatedness, empathy, approval, affection, protection, guidance and help. Autonomy is almost the opposite and is considered to be a combination of beliefs, behavioural tendencies and attitudes that lead people to focus on their own uniqueness, physical functioning and control over their environment. A highly autonomous person is characterized as emphasizing individuality, self-reliance, personal achievements and a sense of power to do what one wants. Both sociotropic and autonomous people are considered to be more at risk of depression the former because of the uncertainty surrounding all human relationships and the latter because we cannot always control our environments or achieve success in the way that we would like. A study of 261 students in Pennsylvania looked at the way sociotropy and autonomy influenced the way people interacted with people close and less-close to them. Sociotropic individuals were overly nurturant to non-close others but vindictive to people who were closer to them whereas autonomous individuals were domineering to people who were less close to them and offhand towards people who were closer to them. As the way in which we get on with other people can make a big contribution to our mental health these findings could prove useful in dealing with depression in sociotropic and autonomous individuals.
Sato, Toru and McCann, Doug - Sociotropy-autonomy and interpersonal problems Depression and Anxiety 24(3), 153-162