Connectedness in Psychology: Definition & Theory

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
Are we individuals completely separate from everyone else, or are there areas of connectedness? This lesson looks at the idea of connectedness, how people connect and some disagreement as to the nature of connectedness.

Defining Connectedness

Ever feel like an island? There are seas of people in the world, but each person within the human sea is an individual. The ocean is like that. It is composed of individual bits of water, of drops that form to make up the whole. But no one ever looks at a body of water as individual bits; seas, oceans, lakes, rivers are seen as whole unto themselves. The theory of connectedness says the same thing about people. Everyone is an individual, but every person is also connected to others and his or her environment.

Each of us is made up of individual atoms and molecules, and we maintain our individuality no matter where or when we are: whether at a family gathering, surrounded by people connected to us by blood, or a school classroom, connected to others in the room by generation and purpose. However, every individual is in some way connected to every other individual also. Connectedness speaks of those things that bind people together, whether at a moment in time or specific place, or more deeply in a way that is not dependent on external variables.

Types of Connectedness

Research into connectedness suggests that there are several different types of connectedness that are gleaned from the place from which the connect comes.


Emotional connectedness involves people feeling a connection to another person. Some would term this empathy. This term means experiencing what another person is experiencing emotionally. Most people have felt sadness when another person feels sad or gladness when someone else is happy. But this is more than that. It is feeling someone's emotion the way that person feels it, rather than piggy-backing your own emotion onto what the other person is feeling.


Physical connectedness refers to some people's beliefs that they can become a part of other realities, the space and nature around them. It refers to a physical sensation that makes the individual one with his or her surroundings and provides a depth of perception that is denied when people are distracted by themselves. A man, for instance, can experience false labor when he sees his wife in the pain of real labor, though this may also be explained as extreme empathy.


Cognition involves a deeper connection than the emotional or physical. For instance, research studies on twins have come up with some interesting information in this area. Twins who were raised apart will sometimes have very similar experiences, such as having related careers, naming their children similar names and so on. Additionally, some people, especially twins, say that they know when something happens to their sibling (or another person close to them) and can feel both the emotion and physicality attached to that knowledge.

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