PSY 304 Week 4 Assignment: Belongingness


PSY 304 Lifespan Development


I. Introduction

Belonginess is a natural need that we all carry for survival. According to the article titled, Exploring the Association between School Belonging and Emotional Health among Adolescents (2018), “the sense of belonging is described as significant affiliations between individuals and their surroundings–peoples, groups, or places” (Aslen, 2018, Pg. 4, Para. 1). Various theories of social and emotional human development along with biological and historical reasoning have a lot to say on why we as humans have a need for belongingness. In the following paragraphs, we will explore how an individual’s self-concept, self-esteem, and social interactions all have to do with our internal need for belonginess and the nurturing thereof.

II. Body Paragraph #1 – Topic Sentence # 1

An individual’s view of themselves is commonly known as one’s self-concept. The development of self-concept begins at birth and continues throughout late adulthood. Self-concept is learned and can change throughout one’s lifespan (Stoddard, Pierce, & Schmidt, 2016). Self-concept and the need to belong are closely connected. In theory, an individual can develop a positive self-concept through having a sense of belonging just as having a sense of belonging can help an individual develop a positive self-concept (Parisian, 2015).

We are hardwired from birth with the need for inclusion and a sense of belonging. We look for acceptance from our surroundings, family, friends, and other groups of individuals in our surroundings to feel like we belong. In the article titled, Social Identity Theory: Our Sense of Self Is Influenced By The Groups We Belong To, Dr. Charles Stangor (2011) states, “from the moment we are born and bonded with our parents, we begin the social cycle of inclusion: in family, relatives, schools, friends, relationships, associations and work. There is no escaping others because they validate our existence and reinforce our culture and identity. Others act as mirrors which reflect our existence. When this reflection is confusing, or does not match with our own self-perception, it leads to isolation or an identity crisis” (Ch.3.3.3, Para. 2). Failure to feel belonginess can produce negative feelings about one’s self and in return, can cause a person to develop a negative self-concept. Various theories such as Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development have suggested that because humans are naturally social beings, we cannot function properly without having a sense of belonging (Parisian, 2015).

III. Body Paragraph #2 – Topic Sentence # 2

Social developmental theories suggest that maintaining a positive self-esteem and self-image of self can fulfill a person’s need to belong. It has been theorized that individuals who have a secure attachment tend to have better relationships with others and tend to have more of a positive self-image of themselves.

A. Supporting Evidence

Baumeister and Leary (1995) state in a study regarding the need to belong, “people need frequent personal contacts or interactions with other people. Ideally, these interactions would be affectively positive or pleasant, but it is mainly important that the majority be free from conflict and negative affect. People need to perceive that there is an interpersonal bond or relationship marked by stability, affective concern, and continuation into the foreseeable future. This aspect provides a relational context to one’s interactions with the other person, and so the perception of the bond is essential for satisfying the need to belong” (Pg. 500, Para. 8).

B. Explanation

Positive interactions and social connections with others provides an individual with feelings and perceptions of closeness thus fulfilling their need to belong.

C. So What?

Attachment, according to Shriner & Shriner (2014) is what individuals term as “love and affection” or “an enduring emotional bond between one person or animal and another” (8.2, Para. 12). Social connections are needed to form bonds. To form bonds, an individual must possess a healthy attachment style.

IV. Body Paragraph #3 – Topic Sentence # 3

The need for belonging comes from the emotional need to make connections with others. Emotional developmental theories suggest that understanding one’s emotions as well as other people’s emotions and learning to come up with ways to manage such is crucial to forming healthy bonds with other individuals (Arslen, 2018). Those who are emotionally stable, are more capable of forming lasting relationships with others hence fostering one’s need to belong.

According to the text tilted, Emotions Promote Social Interaction by Synchronizing Brain Activity Across Individuals (2012), “neuroimaging studies have revealed common neural activation for perception and experience of emotional states such as pain, disgust, and pleasure. The automated mapping of others’ emotional states in one’s own body and brain has been proposed to support social interaction via contextual understanding: Sharing others’ emotional states provides the observers with a somatosensory framework that facilitates understanding their intentions and actions and allows the observers to “tune in” or “sync” with other individuals”. (Nummenmaa, Glerean, Viinikainen, Jääskeläinen, Hari, Sams, 2012, Pg. 1, Para. 2).

  • A. Supporting Evidence

B. Explanation

Studies show that individuals are essentially hardwired to experience emotions and take those emotions and empathize with others. Individuals who can understand others emotions through their own experiences are able to form better bonds with other individuals.

C. So What?

It is important to be in touch with not only your emotions, but also others in to foster good relationships and bonds. Fostering good relationships and bonds creates a healthy sense of belonging.

V. Conclusion – Thesis Statement (Rephrased)

The need for belonginess is a survival mechanism that all humans are programmed with at birth. Numerous theories of human development aid in the understanding as to why we as humans have that need as well as how to foster our sense of belonginess in a positive manner.


Arslan, Gökmen. (2018). Exploring the association between school belonging and emotional health among adolescents. International Journal of Educational Psychology, v7 n1 p21-41 Feb 2018. (EJ1172404). [Online]. Retrieved from

Baumeister, R., Leary, M. (1995). The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin 1995, Vol. 117, No. 3, 497-529. [Online PDF]. Retrieved from

Nummenmaa, L., Glerean, E., Viinikainen, M., Jääskeläinen LP., Hari, R., Sams, M. (2012). Emotions promote social interaction by synchronizing brain activity across individuals. [Online]. Retrieved from

Parisian, K. (2015). Identity Formation: Art Therapy and an Adolescent’s Search for Self and Belonging. Art Therapy: Journal of The American Art Therapy Association, 32(3), 130-135. doi:10.1080/07421656.2015.1061257. Retrieved from

Shriner, B. & Shriner, M. (2014). Essentials of Lifespan Development: A Topical Approach [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

Stangor, C., (2011). Social identity theory: our sense of self is influenced by the groups we belong to. Principles of Social Psychology. [Online]. Retrieved from

Stoddard, S. A., Pierce, J., & Schmidt, C. J. (2016). Grade-Level Differences in Future-Oriented Self-Concept During Early Adolescence. Journal Of School Nursing, 32(6), 390-396. doi:10.1177/1059840516649236. Retrieved from