What Is a Sense of Belonging?

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A sense of belonging is the feeling of being connected and accepted within one’s family and community. It is important in healthy human development and combating behavior problems and depression.

A sense of belonging is the feeling of being connected and accepted within one’s family and community.
A sense of belonging is the feeling of being connected and accepted within one’s family and community. (Image: Nick White/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Identification

In his 1943 paper, "A Theory of Human Motivation" American psychologist Abraham Maslow cited belonging as the third most important human need on his hierarchy of human needs, after only physiological and safety needs.

A sense of belonging is one of the most important basic human needs.
A sense of belonging is one of the most important basic human needs. (Image: Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Function

According to the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development of Canada, a sense of belonging with one’s country and community can positively influence one’s sense of identity and how much they participate in society. It can also improve physical and mental health.

A sense of belonging can improve physical and mental health
A sense of belonging can improve physical and mental health (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Features

A sense of belonging includes feeling secure, recognized, suitable, able to participate and like “a fish in water” in one’s community, according to an issue of Early Childhood matters. It is important to healthy childhood development.

A sense of belonging is sometimes feeling secure and able to participate.
A sense of belonging is sometimes feeling secure and able to participate. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Depression

According to a University of Michigan study, people with more social support who feel more of a sense of belonging report less depressive symptoms.

People with more social support report less depressive symptoms
People with more social support report less depressive symptoms (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Behavior

According to a University of Rhode Island study, adolescents who find group membership important and have a positive sense of group belonging have significantly fewer behavior problems than those who see group membership as very important, but do not have a positive sense of group belonging.

Teens who find group membership have fewer behavioural problems.
Teens who find group membership have fewer behavioural problems. (Image: Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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