Belonging and Social Transitions: The Role of Belonging Needs During a Period of Social Transition

2014-04-15T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Justin E. Heinze
This study examined the role of belonging needs during the social transition to a new environment. Differences in the need to belong and reported belonging levels of 211 first year students were examined as predictors of successful social adjustment and transition to a new college environment. Subjects completed an on-line questionnaire at the mid- point of their first year. A smaller sub-sample (n = 77) completed an additional questionnaire at the end of the first year. The need to belong was positively related to transition outcomes including satisfaction and identification with the new environment, academic success and attitudes toward social support. Feeling like you belong, however, was a better predictor of indicators of successful transition including satisfaction, identification, academic success, intentions to transfer, willingness to reenroll and both the location and valuation of students’ social support networks. Consistent with experimental research, reported need to belong was highest when belonging threats were salient, but decreased and remained stable at subsequent time points. An opposite pattern emerged for feeling like you belong. Reported feelings of belonging were lowest during the first month and increased at later time points. Together, these findings suggest that both the need to belong and actually feeling like you belong are important components of social transitions.