The Club Fair Psychology
Have you ever found yourself wondering where you belong? Recently, the club fair certainly made plenty of us ask ourselves this question among others such as “What club are all the popular kids joining?” Though I’m confident that answers to the latter question would make for an interesting article, I’m going to focus on the first question and associated queries such as what is the psychology behind the human urge to belong in groups, and why is it so essential to socialize?
I feel it’s important to begin by defining ‘belonging’ itself (which will hopefully help clear up what on Earth I’m talking about). Kendra Cherry on the Verywell Mind website defines belonging as “an intrinsic motivation to affiliate with others and be socially accepted.” In other words, humans feel a natural need to join groups.
You may be wondering why we feel this urge. Besides the practical reason that completing tasks tends to be easier when done in a group, there is a more physiological aspect to it. As Cherry defined it, “...the need to belong is an intrinsic motivation.” Cherry’s use of the psychology term “intrinsic motivation” stresses that we are not driven to socialize solely for practical rewards, but also for the internal satisfaction it causes.
Thanks to natural selection, our brains are set up to enjoy being in groups. According to a blog post by Penn State University, “... this need to belong has its roots in evolution. In order for our ancestors to reproduce and survive it was essential that they establish social bonds.” As you might recall from Ms. Baylis’ class, during natural selection, organisms with beneficial traits are the ones who survive and pass down those traits to their offspring. As you might recall from Mr. Wuttke’s class, our ancestors lived as hunters and gatherers, a lifestyle in which people worked together to provide for the group. All evidence points to this being a beneficial trait that was passed down to us.
But how does our need to belong affect us on a day-to-day basis? Why does any of this matter? Belonging actually plays a significant role in an individual’s mental health. As a behavioral scientist, Gökmen Arslan, put it, “A satisfied need for belonging improves youth well‐being and mental health, whereas unsatisfaction or lack of this need can lead to a variety of psychosocial problems.” As you can probably remember from the COVID pandemic, isolation can feel terrible. Social bonds can be great sources of joy and fulfillment and are often essential for a healthy life.
Science proves that we all need to be part of something. You should join that club, reach out to that friend. If you want to improve your mental health, maybe try socializing more.