The need for belonging is a fundamental psychological need that represents the desire of individuals to establish and maintain meaningful connections with others. It welcomes such feelings like social acceptance, inclusion, and being a part of a community or group. The need to belong is a fundamental element of human psychology and contributes to a meaningful life by influencing emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects.

Dec 12, 2023 - 22:50
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The need to belong is one of the factors supporting psychological well-being. Being a part of a social group provides emotional support by reducing the risks of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. This situation fosters a higher sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. Additionally, belonging to a group has a positive attitude in creating personal identity within the framework of mutual values, norms, and beliefs. The sense of belonging motivates individuals to take part in roles actively within the group, thereby increasing motivation and encouraging positive behaviors for the group. The solidarity formed within the group, accompanied by the sense of belonging, encourages individuals in coping with challenges through the support received during difficult times.

In the absence of a sense of belonging, issues such as alienation, isolation, and disconnectedness may arise risks, along with complications such as decreased motivation, increased stress and anxiety, and depression. Since belonging is crucial for the development of social skills and empathy, the lack of it adversely affects these skills. Consequently, it becomes challenging for individuals to live comfortably within society.

Connection Between the Need to Belong and the Sense of Security

Belonging to a group provides a psychological sense of security. Knowing that one is accepted and valued as a part of a support network reduces feelings of vulnerability and fear in the face of threats. Emotional support provided during difficult times, as well as solidarity involving shared resources in times of scarcity or physical assistance, helps foster a sense of being secure.

Members within a community, by looking out for one another, strengthen the sense of taking responsibility for security and protection. This situation contributes to a decrease in levels of stress and anxiety, supporting overall well-being. The individual becomes more durable in overcoming challenges.

Examination of the Need to Belong Through Theories

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory that organizes human needs in a hierarchical structure, with basic needs at the bottom and higher-level needs at the top. The need to belong is located in this hierarchy under psychological and social needs.

1. Belonging and Social Needs: This level in Maslow's hierarchy includes the need for love, affection, belonging, and acceptance. It consists of both close relationships (such as family and friends) and broader social connections (like communities and social groups). People strive to overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation by constructing meaningful relationships and connections.

2. Role of Belonging in the Hierarchy: The need to belong comes after the fulfillment of physiological needs (such as food, water, shelter) and safety needs (security, stability). Once these basic needs are met, individuals would be in an effort to belong. When these needs are not met, higher-level needs in Maslow's Hierarchy such as esteem and self-actualization become challenging.

3. Impact on Well-Being: Maslow emphasizes that the unfulfillment of the need for belonging can lead to isolation, depression, and anxiety. Meeting this need significantly contributes to emotional well-being and self-esteem.

4. Transition to Higher-Level Needs: When the need for belonging is satisfied, individuals can progress to higher levels in the hierarchy, addressing esteem needs (recognition, achievement) and self-actualization.

Tajfel's Social Identity Theory

Henri Tajfel's Social Identity Theory is closely associated with the need to belong, highlighting how individuals gain identity and self-esteem through group memberships.

1. Social Categorization: According to this theory, individuals categorize themselves and others into social groups based on common characteristics (such as race, gender, nationality, profession). They identify with the "in-group" (to which they feel they belong) and the "out-group" (which they perceive as different).

2. Social Comparison and Self-Esteem: Social Identity Theory suggests that individuals derive their self-esteem not only from personal achievements but also from the status and accomplishments of the in-group. They tend to compare favorably with the out-group to enhance their self-esteem.

3. Positive Differentiation Need: Individuals are in an attempt to obtain a positive social identity by emphasizing the positive aspects of the in-group and attempting to distinguish it from the out-group. This pursuit of positive differentiation fosters a sense of belonging and pride within the group.

4. Need to Belong: This theory emphasizes the deep connection between the need to belong and the quest for a positive social identity. Feeling accepted within an in-group supports identity formation, approval, and a sense of self-esteem.

5. Behaviors of Individuals: Social Identity Theory explains efforts to prefer the in-group, discriminate against out-groups, and enhance the status of the in-group. These behaviors stem from the need for a positive social identity and belonging.

The Impact of the Sense of Belonging on Mental Health and Well-Being

The sense of belonging plays a critical role in mental health and overall well-being. Primarily, it reduces the feelings of loneliness and isolation. Belonging contributes positively to an individual's self-worth and self-esteem. As a person obtains acceptance within a group, their confidence and self-image are positively affected.

Simultaneously, as an individual achieves the need to belong, they develop strong social connections, providing support during stressful moments. This support aids in emotional regulation and enhances the ability to deal with life's challenges. Along with a decrease in stress, an increase in the individual's positive emotional state can be observed. Therefore, with strengthen mental resilience, the likelihood of psychological complications decreases compared to individuals who do not achieve their need to belong.

In general, a strong sense of belonging is closely associated with positive mental health. By establishing a foundation for emotional support, self-esteem, and resilience, it creates a conducive environment for overall psychological well-being. It is considered one of the fundamental needs for achieving general well-being and satisfaction in life.


Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529. 

Cacioppo, J. T., & Patrick, W. (2008). Loneliness: Human nature and the need for social connection. WW Norton & Company.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7-24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.

Turner, J. C., Hogg, M. A., Oakes, P. J., Reicher, S. D., & Wetherell, M. S. (1987). Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Basil Blackwell.

Hogg, M. A., & Terry, D. J. (2000). Social identity and self-categorization processes in organizational contexts. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 121-140.

Jetten, J., Haslam, C., & Haslam, S. A. (2012). The social cure: Identity, health and well-being. Psychology Press.

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