A Sense of Belonging

Students and faculty filled Jesse Wrench Auditorium on Feb. 28 to listen to Professor Jennifer Crocker’s lecture titled “Egosystem or Ecosystem? How to Create (or Undermine) a Sense of Belonging”.

Crocker is a professor of psychology at Ohio State University as well as an Ohio Eminent Scholar in Social Psychology.The main premise of her presentation was that humans have an innate need to feel a sense of belonging with others.

Crocker proposed two methods to achieve this sense of belonging.  The first is what she refers to as the egosystem.  In this method, people focus on their impression management to see the approval of others.  This method focuses on oneself and how one is portraying themselves to others in order to receive the sense of belonging.

The second approach, the ecosystem, focuses on the needs of others through compassionate goals.  For this method, focusing on helping others often helps fulfill ones sense of belonging.

While these two approaches are quite the opposite, they both work to achieve the same effect.  However, people do not use solely one method.  Rather people have qualities of both actions and both methods can take place simultaneously.

A main study that they did to test these two approaches was to study college roommates.  She talked about how this was an effective group to look at because in many cases roommates did not know each other prior to living together.  Many studies were conducted in various ways, but in general they studied the motives of these college students and their feeling about the relationship with their roommate.

Everyone wants to feel like they belong and there was so much to gain from this presentation about the methods people use to satisfy this desire.

Watch the story here