This paper explores published academic journals that describe the Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory. The purpose of researching the Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory is to explain the person-based model, and focus on its benefits in Public Relations. This theory will be detailed through an examination of history, orientation and concepts. This paper will also examine the connection between the Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory and Public Relations, using an example from the United States Army.

Attraction-Selection-Attrition Theory and Its Effects on Public Relations

Organizations are functions of the kinds of people they contain. This statement, according to Schneider, is one of the outcomes of the Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory, a three-part model that explains how collective characteristics of individuals define how they fit within an organization (Schneider, 1987). This model encompasses three stages: attraction, selection and attrition. It is a cycle that shows why people become attracted to an organization, why they are preferably selected for an organization and how over time they may leave if they see it no longer fitting their personal needs. This paper will offer a connection between Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory and Public Relations. Since this theory focuses on creating a group culture within a working environment, Public Relations must keep their internal lines of communications open and help market the company to allow individuals to find it an attractive place to be. When discussing Public Relations campaigns, organizations must understand their audience so they target the people most similar to them to join their organization’s message. They also must be able to put out the right message to potential target audiences to get the best fit possible.


The Attraction-Selection-Attrition model, also known as the ASA model, proposes that organizations are functions of the people who are within the group, and the people within that group are functions of this ASA model (Schneider, 1987). The Attraction-Selection-Attrition model was first proposed in, “The People Make the Place,” an article published in 1987 by Benjamin Schneider. Schneider proposed a person-oriented model of organizational behavior based on the suggestion that an organization is defined by the mutual characteristics of individuals (Schneider, Goldstein, Smith, 1995). Schneider has noted that attributes most relevant to the ASA model are personality, values and attitudes (Schaubroeck, Ganster, Jones, 1998).

The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory is composed of three-steps. In combination, they determine the types of people that would be part of an organization. By establishing the individuals who would be a part of said organization, this will define the nature of the group (in terms of structure, processes and culture).

Attraction:  Individual’s preferences for certain organizations are based on an inherent estimate of similarity with their personal characteristics (Schneider, Goldstein, Smith, 1995). The most crucial of these similarities are values, interests and other attributes. Specific organizations are appealing to people because they have members similar to themselves; therefore they find this organization “attractive,” or a place that they could see themselves working.  The attraction section of this cycle gathers that alike people ending up at the same company is not a coincidence.

Selection: The second step of the model refers to the recruitment and hiring periods for companies. The ASA model states that organizations are more likely to select people who possess knowledge, skills and abilities that are similar to their existing members. This involves an organization and applicants both deciding on each other because of how well they meet each other’s needs (Ployhart, Weekley, Baughman, 2006).

Attrition: The third step of the model concludes that over time people who do not continue to fit within the organization will leave. As an individual begins to grow, so will the organization they are a part of. If a person does not feel their needs are being met anymore, they shall remove themselves from the organization because they do not share the same similarities as in the past.

Per the contributing factors of this theory, characteristics of the people who work within the organization are likely to become more similar over time. (Oxford Dictionary, 2016). This is a called homogeneity hypothesis. This hypothesis states that individuals in the same organization should have more similarities in shared personality than members of different organizations. (Ployhart, Weekley, Baughman, 2006). To break it down even more, individuals within organizations are more similar than individuals between organizations. The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory does not infer the strength of homogeneity across organization levels, but tries to only make a link between the individual and organization.

Application in Public Relations

The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory is important to know if you are going into any career field. It is important to understand the decision-making process as you complete interviews and research companies that you would like to work at. It can be an advantage for people to understand the ASA model, because it can help them understand that they are likely to preference an organization that has the same values as themselves.

The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory was proposed in relation to work environments, its main focus is on group culture and how that is created through people joining an organization that has similar values. One aspect of Public Relations is how it can help in the recruitment efforts for many companies. The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory is important to understand in regards to recruitment because companies must understand what the external audience sees as well as defining the internal audience. Public Relations must consider what the company looks like to the outside world, so that the “attraction” section of the three-step model can take place. Potential employees or members of an organization must be able to see the similar interests and values that a company has in order for them to want to join. Public Relations professionals can take these steps by developing the message that illustrates the type of company they are and what makes your company different. Public Relations must help companies and employees look within their organization to identify the specific groups they would like to target. This is where “selection” comes in.

The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory can be seen in the Army campaign, “Birth of an Army, Birth of Freedom: The U.S Army 225th Birthday Campaign.” The Army worked in conjunction with public relations firms and media to meet the recruiting goals that we lacking in the years prior to the 2000 campaign.

The Army had seen a decline in recruits throughout the 1990’s and they were hoping to use the Army’s 225th birthday as an instrument in attracting more recruits to join. The Army employed Public Relations agency Ketchum, to begin identifying the problem through surveys and interviews. Ketchum collected research from the external public, some of which was positive and negative. They wanted to see if people were “attracted” to this organization. Among the negative research, many people stated that even though they may know someone in the Army, they would never encourage a young person to join.

The Ketcum study produced three specific messages that they thought would “attract” the type of audience that was most similar to their values and skills. These messages were:

  • Past: We have a country because we had an Army
  • Present: The Army is the doer of the nation’s deeds.
  • Future: The Army is America’s guardian of democracy and protector of freedom. (PRWatch, 2007)

The Army tested these messages and were able to find receptive audiences, which included 16 year-old white students, 17 year-old students of color and interest among 22 year-old Hispanic and African-American youths. By locating these specific audiences, the Army would be able to target the exact group that would fit their organization. This fits in with the ASA model because it is important to target an audience that has the same interests, since they are the ones you are most likely to select to join.

On the Army’s birthday, they scored media attention from all morning news programs, and many other broadcast media sites. This had become the largest communications undertaking by the Army and traffic to the Army’s website increased 550 percent above the previous year. This was a successful campaign for the Army that employed Public Relations tactics to help recruit members and also understood how the ASA model can be influential in recruitment.


The Attraction-Selection-Attrition model is a three-part cycle that explains why a company fits an individual and whether an individual fits within a company. If said individual ends up not sharing the same similarities as time goes on, they will leave the organization. These shared traits between the organization and individual will create a sense of homogeneity. It is important for people in Public Relations to understand the role of the Attraction-Selection-Attrition model when building recruitment campaigns for either their organization or a client. Recruitment must employ the ASA model so they are able to attract the right audience members that they would potentially like to select to continue the homogeneity within their organization. Public Relations agency, Ketchum, helped the United States’ Army understand what made and didn’t make their organization attract so they could properly target a specific audience to recruit new members. The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory is vital in growing organizations and defining group culture.


Attraction-selection-attrition model – Oxford Reference. (n.d.). Retrieved February 08, 2016, from

Chatman, J. A., Wong, E. M., & Joyce, C. (2007). When Do People Make the Place? Considering the Interactionist Foundation of the Attraction-Selection-Attrition Model. 65-68. Retrieved February 04, 2016, from

Farsetta, D. (2007, January 31). An Army of Thousands More: How PR Firms and Major Media Help Military Recruiters. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from

Ployhart, R. E., Weekley, J. A., & Baughman, K.. (2006). The Structure and Function of Human Capital Emergence: A Multilevel Examination of the Attraction-Selection-Attrition Model. The Academy of Management Journal, 49(4), 661–677.

Schaubroeck, J., Ganster, D. C., & Jones, J. R. (1998). Organization and occupation influences in the attraction–selection–attrition process. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(6), 869-891. doi:

Schneider, B., Goldstein, H. W., & Smith, D. B. (1995). The ASA Framework: An Update. Personnel Psychology. Retrieved February 04, 2016, from



8 thoughts on “Attraction-Selection-Attrition

  1. Great job on your paper Zoe!The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory is new to me so I expected it to be a little confusing but you did a great job explaining it. I really like how you used the illustration of a girl going for a job interview to explain the theory. It made the theory very easy to relate to since we are all starting the job searching process and going on interviews. I think it is important to keep this theory in mind at our age when selecting jobs in order to find where we fit best.

  2. Hi Zoe, very insightful paper. I had not heard of your theory before reading your post, but you explained it thoroughly and I understand it now. I find it interesting that this theory is more about an potential employee rather than audiences or campaigns. I also like that it helps me as I look for new jobs during my last few months of college. Hopefully this theory will help me pick the right company.

  3. Great essay Zoe! As someone who is graduating soon this was very helpful for me! Now I understand how to interact with possible employers in a job interview. It is helpful to think about this theory from the perspective of an employer and someone who is seeking a job. This was a very thoughtful and thorough explanation of your theory. Thanks for the read!

  4. When I first heard the name of this theory I initially thought it was going to be a very confusing one. However, you described this theory in such a great way that it was clear and manageable to understand. After reading your paper and watching your presentation in class today I know you researched this theory well. Your paper was fantastic to read because your ideas were very well thought out and organized. I really loved when you applied it to the PR field in terms of recruiters and working for a company because that is what we are all going through right now! The presentation went along with it very nicely and I loved the little story you made. Great job Zoe!

  5. I think you did an awesome job writing your paper and explaining a somewhat confusing theory. I have never even heard of the theory before today so I had no prior knowledge but can definitely understand it now. I liked the example you used in your presentation about the girl applying for the accounting job and recruiters wanting to hire her because of similar values and traits. This is extremely useful not only in the workforce but PR application as well. You did a really good job explaining something that a lot of us were unfamiliar with!

  6. Hey Zoe, I thought your paper was great and think that this is an interesting theory. I like how you took it from two different angles when comparing it to PR, giving it from the perspective of the potential employee as well as the employers. This is an important thing for us to think about when applying for jobs this coming spring. Your Army example was also a very good representation of the theory in action. Great job!

  7. This is a great paper Zoe! It is written very well and explains the Attraction Selection Attrition Theory in an easy to follow way. I had never heard of the ASA Theory prior to reading your paper, but I feel that I have a clear understanding of what it means after reading this. I think your example of the U.S. Army relates perfectly to the ASA Theory and I also think you did a great job of explaining how this relates to public relations. It is very clear now how ASA relates to career placement based on characteristics of both a person and an organization. It also makes sense now why people leave organizations that don’t mesh well with their characteristics. I think it’s important for anyone entering the public relations field to understand the Attraction Selection Attrition Theory, because it will help them pick the right job.

  8. You did a really good job explaining the theory! I went into the paper confused by the idea, and came out understanding the benefits of considering ASA when placing yourself in a group membership situation. Recruitment is important in any job and I’m sure we have all been reached out to by a recruiter once before. It’s interesting to think of the reasons behind why recruiters choose who they do, and the theory behind it. Great paper!

Leave a Reply