That is, if you don't feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles. Even outside a research setting, these are valuable lessons we can all draw from as we navigate life's difficult circumstances. Though Walton's research has involved only students, his work has powerful implications for the workplace and other contexts. According to Rajita Sinha, the head of Yale's Stress Center, stress itself is not necessarily a bad thing. But stress that is sustained, uncontrollable and overwhelming, in which people can't figure out options to solve their problems, wreaks havoc on us.
Walton's belonging intervention has the potential to downgrade uncontrollable stress by allowing people to put a narrative around their traumatic experiences. It places those experiences in a box, he says, "with a beginning, a middle and an end. As a consequence, the meaning of the negative experience is constrained, and people understand that when bad things happen, it's not just them, they are not alone, and that it's something that passes.go site
This is What it Means to Belong - Melissa Camara Wilkins
Walton and his colleagues enlist the study subjects as experts to help "others" who may be similarly situated and going through a difficult time. The researchers provide subjects with statistics, quotations and stories from upperclassmen about their experiences -- how they struggled at first but eventually got through it -- and ask participants to use that information to write about getting through their own difficulties and how it gets better.
The participants, who believe they are writing for the next generation of incoming freshmen -- an audience many of them relate to and care about -- begin to engage with the material and use it to reflect on their own experiences, ultimately coming to the conclusion that no matter how bad they feel, they are not alone.
This is particularly powerful in settings where people have a looming alternative explanation, as in the case of minorities, women and gay youth.
See a Problem?
Even though the belonging intervention is a mere 45 minutes, its outcomes have proved to be significant and lasting. In Walton's studies, the intervention increased subjects' happiness, improved their health and reduced cognitive activation of negative stereotypes for several years after the initial intervention. It also prevented them from taking many daily adversities personally and interpreting them to mean that they didn't belong in general.
Walton's research has had a particularly dramatic effect on students' achievement, especially for minority students and women in overwhelmingly male-dominated majors, who may suffer from the dreaded minority achievement gap: the disparity in academic performance that often persists between minority and disadvantaged students and their white counterparts.
Belonging, occupation, and human well-being: an exploration.
That may be because these groups, who may traditionally feel more marginalized and less valued, may more readily attribute difficult circumstances to their minority identities and a sense of not belonging. In one study involving African-American and white college freshmen in a predominantly white university, the intervention, delivered in the first year of college, changed the trajectory of minority students' achievement by steadily improving their grades all the way through senior year.
The study participants' change in social construal -- people's perception and interpretation of the world -- was key to this success. During the first week after the intervention in freshman year, students were asked each day about the good and bad events that happened to them and how they felt they belonged at that time. Walton found that the intervention reduced the degree to which students correlated bad days with not belonging by providing them with a nonthreatening framework for interpreting daily challenges.
7 Ways to Give Your Students a Sense of Belonging
In a second study involving women in a predominantly male engineering setting, the intervention increased women's ability to handle daily stressors. They had higher and more stable self-esteem and developed more friendships with their male colleagues. If you do this, it might become more obvious how and where you should be spending your time as well as who with.
Find out what to do if your friend has a different opinion to you or more info about being in a gang. Gaining A Sense Of Belonging. Health and Wellbeing Relationships.
- Belonging | Free Listening on SoundCloud.
- RELATED CONTENT.
- Excerpt: A Sense of Belonging – Kinfolk;
- Another Green World: A Novel.
Feeling we belong somewhere or with a group is good for our mental well being. But, being with the wrong people can sometimes hold us back.