9 julio, 2024

Sense of belonging: concept, characteristics, examples

We explain what the sense of belonging is, its characteristics, what is its importance and several examples

What is the sense of belonging?

He sense of belonging it is a feeling of identification with a specific group, which can range from a sports team to an institution or an entire society. It is based on the human need for affiliation, described by Maslow as one of the necessary requirements to feel good about ourselves.

The sense of belonging occurs when the person feels that they are part of something bigger than themselves and, therefore, they recognize the rest of the members of their reference group as equals. This can have a very positive effect on your self-esteem, and is especially important for young people.

In many cases, belonging to a group also entails affiliation to an ideology, which is why it is essential for the construction of the individual’s identity. Therefore, the sense of belonging can lead the person to acquire new values, attitudes, beliefs and ways of acting.

Characteristics of the sense of belonging

It is a necessity

The first description of the sense of belonging was given by Maslow, a psychologist from the humanist current who formulated the Theory of human needs. According to this theory and several subsequent studies on the subject, the need to belong to a group is the third most important, behind only physiological needs and security.

Numerous experiments show the beneficial effects of group membership for a person’s mental development, as well as for their well-being and even their health. The lack of belonging to a group can lead to problems such as anxiety or depression in a person.

exists from birth

Since we are born, we are involved in interaction with other people. Our first reference group is the family, having great importance throughout our childhood. However, later people begin to belong to other groups, such as friends or fellow students.

Effect on self-concept

What the people in our group think of us, as well as the way in which they treat us and what they express to us about ourselves, will be key aspects for the formation of our self-concept. That is, the way we see ourselves will be modified by our reference group.

This becomes especially true in the case of adolescents and young adults, but it continues to occur throughout our entire lives.

Exposure to new ideas

By feeling linked to a group, and even if the members of the group are very similar, we will always be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. So, the sense of belonging can lead us to change our values ​​and attitudes, or to try new experiences.

Increase our confidence

Feeling that our ideas and ways of thinking are supported by a group makes us believe much more in ourselves. This becomes especially true if our reference group is a major institution or consists of people we admire, since we will feel more validated by them.

rigidity in our behavior

Since our self-esteem is so involved in the sense of belonging to a group, on some occasions we will be unable to see the negative aspects of it or to contradict the rest of the members. This, which in general does not have to be a big problem, becomes dangerous in the case of groups such as sects.

However, all groups have some rigidity as to what is considered acceptable behavior and what is not. Therefore, to get the most out of our reference group we have to be able to identify with it while maintaining our individuality as much as possible.

Gives us a routine

On many occasions, belonging to a group means taking part in certain rituals or actions that are carried out on a regular basis. For example, training with the soccer team every weekend or going out for a beer with friends on Thursday afternoons.

These routines can be a very powerful ally when it comes to building our well-being, since they help us occupy our time with activities that become important to us. In addition, they also give us some security and confidence.

Fountain of resources

Belonging to a group can become an important source of resources, both physical and emotional. In difficult times, having the support of a group or an institution can mean the difference between solving the problem or getting lost in our negative emotions.

Importance of the sense of belonging

As can be seen, the sense of belonging to a group causes all kinds of effects (both positive and negative) in people’s lives. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully choose the type of group with which we want to feel identified.

Although in general our sense of belonging is determined by chance (by feeling part of groups or institutions such as a country, the city where we were born or the friends we met in high school), it is necessary to examine what each one is contributing to us of these groups and if it is congruent with the people we want to be.

This is especially important in the case of wanting to achieve our goals, since the support of our reference group is essential in this regard. Therefore, feeling part of a group can have very significant effects in all areas of our lives. Here are some examples to clarify this point.

Examples of the sense of belonging

Friends

Our primary group of friends is one of the ones that exerts the most influence on us. Our way of behaving will be totally different if we have friends who are sporty, ambitious, who spend their time drinking alcohol or who focus on playing video games.

Family

The family is also an important source of norms, ways of acting and beliefs. If we have grown up in a very traditional family, our way of being will totally change compared to that of a person with liberal and progressive parents.

Political or religious groups

Religion and politics are two of the issues that cause the greatest sense of belonging in most people. Depending on the group with which we feel identified, a multitude of aspects of our life will change: from our daily behavior to our way of seeing the world.

References

«Identity and the feeling of belonging»in: Center for Clinical Psychology. Recovered from alarconpsicologos.com.
“What is the feeling of belonging to the group?” In: Create Health. Recovered from crearsalud.org.
«Sense of Belonging» in: Definition Of. Retrieved from definition.de.
«What is the sense of belonging?» in: eHow. Recovered from ehowenespanol.com.

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