• Divya Padalia Department of Psychology, KNC, University of Delhi


Belongingness, identity, distinctiveness, categorization, groups


The social identity approach comprising of the social identity theory and its extension – the self-categorization theory is one of the most popular theories in social psychology. This paper uses the self-categorization theory (mainly) to understand individuals’ motives to belong and to be distinct from the (multiple) groups they may be part of. It is concluded that self-categorization theory, though largely believed to be explaining only the need for inclusiveness, does in fact, explain much about the need for distinctiveness in individuals.


Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.

Baumeister, R. F., & Tice, D. M. (1990). Anxiety and social exclusion. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 9, 165-195.

Baumeister, R. F., & Twenge, J. M. (2003). The social self. In T. Millon & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Personality and social psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 327-352). New York: John Wiley.

Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 475–482.

Brewer, M. B., & Pickett, C. L. (1999). Distinctiveness motives as a source of the social self. In T. R. Tyler, R. M. Kramer, & 0. P. John (Eds.), The psychology of the social self (pp. 71-87). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Carvallo, M., & Gabriel, S. (2006). No man is an island: The need to belong and dismissing avoidant attachment style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 697-709.

Carvallo, M, & Pelham, B. (2006). When friends become fiends: The need to belong and perceptions of personal and group discrimination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90 (1), 94-108.

Elder, G. H. & Clipp, E. C. (1988). Combat experience, comradeship and psychological health (pp 226-273) New York Plenum.

Ellemers, N., Spears, R., & Doosje, B. (2002). Self and social identity. Annual review of psychology, 53(1), 161-186.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture's consequences. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Hornsey, M. J., & Jetten, J. (2004). The individual within the group: Balancing the need to belong with the need to be different. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 248–264.

Leonardelli, G.J., Pickett, C.L., & Brewer, M.B. (2010). Optimal distinctiveness theory: A framework for social identity, social cognition and intergroup relations. In M. Zanna & J. Olson (Eds.) Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 43, pp. 65-115). New York: Elsevier.

Maslow, A. H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. New York:Van Nostrand.

Paranjpe, A. C. (1998). Self and identity in modern psychology and Indian thought. New York: Plennum Press.

Pickett, C. L., Bonner, B. L., & Coleman, J. M. (2002). Motivated self-stereotyping: Heightened assimilation and differentiation needs result in increased levels of positive and negative self-stereotyping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 543-562.

Sedikides, C. & Brewer, M.B. (2002) Individual, relational and collective self: partners, opponents, or strangers? In, Sedikides, Constantine and Brewer, Marilynn (eds.) Individual Self, Relational Self, Collective Self. Hove, UK, Psychology Press, 1-4.

Snyder C.R & Fromkin, H. L. (1977). Abnormality as a positive characteristic: The development and validation of a scale measuring need for uniqueness. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 86, 518–527.

Triandis, H. C. (1989). The self and social behavior in differing cultural contexts. Psychological Review, 96, 506-520.

Turner, J. C., Hogg, M. A., Oakes, P. J., Reicher, S. D., & Wetherell, M. S. (1987). Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell.

Williams, K.D. (2007). Ostracism. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 425-452.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Divya Padalia. (2017). THE NEED FOR BELONGINGNESS AND DISTINCTIVENESS: INSIGHTS FROM SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES. International Education and Research Journal (IERJ), 3(6). Retrieved from