The need to belong: Implications for social projection, interpersonal attraction, and ingroup bias
MetadataShow full item record
The present research examines the idea that the need to belong (NTB) influences three well-established social psychological phenomena. First, the NTB should influence perceptions of consensus for one's personal opinions (i.e., the false consensus effect; Ross, Greene, & House, 1977) because people can achieve a sense of belongingness, in part, by convincing themselves that others share their own attitudes. Second, the NTB should foster ingroup favoritism in the minimal group paradigm (Billig & Tajfel, 1973). Presumably, favoring one's ingroup should help people maintain general feelings of social inclusion. Finally, the NTB should also contribute to the similarity-attraction effect (Byrne & Griffitt, 1966). From the perspective of the NTB, people are more attracted to similar rather than dissimilar others because people believe that similar others are especially likely to accept them. In Study 1, people high in the NTB reported higher than average levels of false consensus bias. In addition, people who scored higher than average on a state self-esteem measure reported lower than average levels of false consensus. However, an experimental manipulation of the NTB failed to influence false consensus. In Study 2, men who were high in ingroup identification responded to a social inclusion manipulation by reporting lower than average levels of ingroup bias. Highly identified men who had been made to feel rejected reported the same level of ingroup bias as did controls. Women reported lower levels of ingroup bias than men, and these reports were unrelated to the NTB manipulation or ingroup identification. In Study 3, participants high in the NTB reported a higher than average liking of similar others. However, an experimental manipulation of the NTB did not yield significant results. Thus, these studies provided only sporadic support for predictions. One interpretation of these results is that the need to belong does not have a very robust effect on the phenomena investigated here. Alternately, these results could be taken to suggest that the manipulation of the NTB does not always yield the expected effects.