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Belongingness has been linked to depression. Prior studies have been crosssectional with few addressing distinct belongingness contexts. This study used structural equation modelling to investigate cross-lagged longitudinal relationships between general belonging, workplace belonging, and depressive symptoms in a community sample of 221 working adults measured at two time points three months apart. Measures were: Sense of Belonging Instrument-Psychological (SOBI-P); Psychological Sense of Organizational Membership (PSOM); Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21); Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). General belonging was predicted more strongly by depressive symptoms than by baseline general belonging, suggesting that depressive symptoms not only linger but also influence future belongingness cognitions. Neither general nor workplace belonging longitudinally predicted depressive symptoms, however cross-sectional correlations were substantial. The concurrent path between general belongingness and depressive symptoms was strong. Results are consistent with daily process studies suggesting that reduced belongingness precipitates a rapid increase in depressive symptoms which influence longer term belongingness cognitions. Congruent with interpersonal descriptions of depression such as the social-cognitive interpersonal process model, results further suggest that belongingness cognitions are the proximal antecedent of a depressive response. Practitioners should monitor both a general sense of belonging as well as perceived relational value cues in specific contexts.

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Journal Article

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