Send to

Choose Destination
Perspect Psychol Sci. 2019 Mar;14(2):238-255. doi: 10.1177/1745691618803629. Epub 2018 Dec 5.

Multiple Paths to Belonging That We Should Study Together.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Yale University.


We propose a broadened conceptualization of what it means to belong by reviewing evidence that there is more than one way to achieve a sense of belonging. We suggest four paths-a communal-relationship path, a general-approbation path, a group-membership path, and a minor-sociability path-and review some evidence for the existence of each. We call for researchers to recognize that multiple paths to belonging exist and to study whether and how the paths combine and interact to influence people's sense of belonging. Choosing the communal-relationship path and the general-approbation path as an example, we highlight times when these paths may (a) mesh well and produce additive boosts to a person's sense of belonging, (b) substitute for one another, and (c) conflict with one another and cause ambivalence. We further call for the development of refined measures of the need to belong and of having a sense of achieved belonging as well as new measures of striving to achieve belonging through specific paths. We suggest that broadening the conceptualization of belonging will help integrate existing literature and generate future research.


belonging; goals; motivation; responsiveness; self-presentation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center