Who feels like they belong? Personality and belonging in college

Alexandria M. Stubblebine, Maithreyi Gopalan, Shannon T. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Having a secure sense of belonging at school supports students’ academic achievement and well-being. However, little research has examined how students’ personalities relate to their feelings of school belonging. We address this gap in the literature by leveraging data from a large sample of first-year college students (N = 4,753) from a diverse set of North American colleges and universities (N = 12). We found that both extraversion and agreeableness were positively associated with belonging, while neuroticism was negatively associated with belonging. In an exploratory analysis, we examined differences between large and small schools. Students who were more extraverted, less neurotic, and less open were more likely to attend large schools. Additionally, the association between extraversion and belonging was stronger for students at large schools. These findings advance our understanding of who comes to feel like they belong at college and how school context may influence these relationships. We emphasize the need for continued research on the relationship between personality and belonging. Additionally, we highlight the implications of these results for higher education institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0295436
JournalPloS one
Issue number1 JANUARY
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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