Students’ sense of belonging at school in 41 countries: Cross-cultural variability

Ming Ming CHIU, Bonnie Wing-Yin CHOW, Catherine MCBRIDE, Stefan Thomas MOL

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94 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined whether students’ sense of belonging at school (SOBAS) differed across attributes of countries, families, schools, teachers, or students. Multilevel analyses of survey and test data from 193,073 15-year-old students in 41 countries yielded four main findings. First, students in more egalitarian cultures often had higher SOBAS than those in more hierarchical cultures. Second, the teacher–student relationship had the strongest link with SOBAS and mediated the link between egalitarianism and SOBAS. Third, collectivism was not significantly linked to SOBAS. Finally, family characteristics (immigrant status, language spoken at home, socio-economic status [SES], books at home, family wealth, and family communication), schoolmates’ characteristics (SES and social communication), teacher characteristics (teacher–student relationship, teacher support and disciplinary climate), and student characteristics (reading achievement, self-efficacy, and self-concept) were also linked to students’ SOBAS and accounted for most of its variance. This ecological model shows how attributes at multiple levels are related to SOBAS. Copyright © 2015 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-196
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number2
Early online dateDec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


Chiu, M. M., Chow, B. W.-Y., McBride, C., & Mol, S. T. (2016). Students’ sense of belonging at school in 41 countries: Cross-cultural variability. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 47(2), 175-196.


  • Sense of belonging
  • School
  • Teacher–student relationship
  • Cultural values


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