Sense of Belonging

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Sense of Belonging: Background Literature The desire for social bonds and connections with others has a long history in psychological research. It has been referred to as the need for affection between people [ (Murray, 1938) ], the need for positive regard from others [ (Rogers, 1951) ], belongingness (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Goodenow, 1993b; Maslow, 1954), affiliation motivation [ (McClelland, 1987) ], and the need for relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 1991; Ryan, 1993; Vallerand, 1997). It has also been defined in a number of ways. For example, Deci and Ryan suggested that the need for relatedness ‘encompasses a person's striving to relate to and care for others, to feel that those others are relating authentically to one's self, and to feel a satisfying and coherent involvement with the social world more generally’ (p. 243). Vallerand suggested that the need for relatedness ‘involves feeling connected (or feeling that one belongs in a social milieu)’ (p. 300). Goodenow proposed that a sense of belonging at school reflects ‘the extent to which students feel personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others in the school social environment’ (p. 80). Baumeister and Leary [ (1995) ] suggested that the need to belong is characterised by a need for regular contact and the perception that the interpersonal relationship has stability, affective concern, and is ongoing. In their seminal article on the importance of sense of belonging to wellbeing, they proposed the ‘belongingness hypothesis’, suggesting that “human beings have a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of lasting, positive, and significant interpersonal relationships” (p. 497). Failure to have belongingness needs met may lead to feelings of social isolation, alienation, and loneliness. Thus, a sense of belonging can be seen as a precursor to social
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