Sense of Belonging: Definition & Theory Video

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  • 0:01 What Is a Sense of Belonging?
  • 0:47 Importance
  • 2:18 Building a Sense of Belonging
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Quentin Shires

Quentin has taught psychology and other social science classes at the university level and is considered a doctoral colleague at Capella University.

Learn about what a sense of belonging is and how it cultivates positive feelings and outcomes in our lives. Also learn how to build a sense of belonging through the use of support systems, then take a quiz to test yourself on the topics covered.

What Is a Sense of Belonging?

Think of a time in your life when you have felt lonely, sad, depressed, and disconnected from people. For many, these experiences are pivotal in human growth and development. For others, they cause repeated and severe depression and anxiety, while creating a lack of direction in their lives.

A sense of belonging decreases your chances of experiencing loneliness and depression.

From a psychological perspective, a sense of belonging is a basic human need, with many psychologists discussing this need as being at the level of importance of that as food, water, and shelter. A sense of belonging can be so powerful that it can create both value in life and the ability to learn healthy coping skills when experiencing intensive and painful emotions.

The Importance of a Sense of Belonging

The importance of a sense of belonging can be traced back to infancy, where researchers have studied skin-to-skin contact between babies and their parents. What researchers have found is that when this is combined with a strong emotional engagement, a baby's developmental growth and its recognition of self increases significantly.

Throughout the rest of our developmental years and life cycle, a sense of belonging also has a positive impact on many other areas of our lives. Intellectual levels, social skills, mental health, physical health, and motivation are just some of the many areas of our lives that are improved when we live with a sense of belonging.

According to research, an individual's well-being can be jeopardized by only one instance of exclusion from a group. Interestingly, exclusion has also been shown to have a negative impact on an individual's performance during IQ testing. Does this mean that we should never experience uncomfortable emotions such as loneliness, sadness, or depression? Of course not. Throughout our lifetime we are likely to feel these emotions at some point. Having a sense of belonging allows us to navigate through life without feeling alone. Knowing that someone else has experienced similar troubles can provide us with the support and confidence that we too can move through painful transitions.

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