Homecoming and the biology of belonging to a tribe

Assumption College Undergraduate

November 6-8 marks Homecoming weekend, where graduates from years past return to reminisce and think about what it’s like to belong to a network of Assumption alumni — to be part of the Assumption tribe.

We are so excited to celebrate our tribe. And as alumni drive up Salisbury Street this weekend, think about how good it’s going to be for your mind and your body.

We were designed to be a part of a tribe, with a human biological need to belong. Throughout history, social bonds and close relationships have even been used to boost survival rates. Being part of a group can provide means for survival, such as protection, efficiency, care and nurturing. As the saying goes, “there is strength in numbers.”

Psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary write that belonging is actually a part of a human biological need — that there is a “basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behavior.”

Light Along the Way has written before of the Assumption course, Motivation and Emotion, taught by psychology professor Dr. Sarah Cavanagh. Baumeister and Leary argue that a person’s greatest motivations are rooted in the need to connect with others.

And these connections are not just good for your emotional or mental health, but also for your physical health.

One study analyzed gene-wide activity in people who experience high or low levels of subjective social isolation. Their findings indicated that there is an “elevated risk of inflammatory disease in individuals who experience chronically high levels of subjective social isolation.”

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