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Dancing is belonging! How social networks mediate the effect of a dance intervention on students’ sense of belonging to their classroom

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


What does it take to feel you belong? Using a sample of 606 students in 30 classrooms, with 15 classrooms participating in a school‐based dance intervention, we examined intra‐ and extrapsychic sources of social belonging using social network analysis. Whereas outdegree (the number of outgoing liking nominations to classmates) served as a proxy variable for students’ active acceptance of others, indegree (the number of ingoing liking nominations from other peers) served as a proxy variable for the passive acceptance by others. Both measures should account for changes in students’ sense of belonging to their classroom. Multilevel longitudinal mediation analyses supported our predictions—increased belonging related to increasing acceptance by others and of others, which were experienced by students participating in the dance intervention for a year (vs. a non‐treated control group). We discuss our findings within the current debate on the use of distal variables to explain intrapsychic constructs.