Belonging: A review of conceptual issues, an integrative framework, and directions for future research

Kelly-Ann ALLEN, Margaret L. KERN, Christopher S. ROZEK, Dennis Michael MCINERNEY, George M. SLAVICH

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Objective: A sense of belonging – the subjective feeling of deep connection with social groups, physical places, and individual and collective experiences – is a fundamental human need that predicts numerous mental, physical, social, economic, and behavioural outcomes. However, varying perspectives on how belonging should be conceptualised, assessed, and cultivated has hampered much-needed progress on this timely and important topic. To address these critical issues, we conducted a narrative review that summarizes existing perspectives on belonging, describes a new integrative framework for understanding and studying belonging, and identifies several key avenues for future research and practice.
Method: We searched relevant databases, including Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus, PsycInfo, and ClinicalTrials.gov, for articles describing belonging, instruments for assessing belonging, and interventions for increasing belonging.
Results: By identifying the core components of belonging, we introduce a new integrative framework for understanding, assessing, and cultivating belonging that focuses on four interrelated components: competencies, opportunities, motivations, and perceptions.
Conclusion: This integrative framework enhances our understanding of the basic nature and features of belonging, provides a foundation for future interdisciplinary research on belonging and belongingness, and highlights how a robust sense of belonging may be cultivated to improve human health and resilience for individuals and communities worldwide. Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-102
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Volume73
Issue number1
Early online date10 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Citation

Allen, K.-A., Kern, M. L., Rozek, C. S., McInerney, D. M., & Slavich, G. M. (2021). Belonging: A review of conceptual issues, an integrative framework, and directions for future research. Australian Journal of Psychology, 73(1), 87-102. doi: 10.1080/00049530.2021.1883409

Keywords

  • Belonging
  • Integration
  • Connection
  • Social relationships
  • Belongingness

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