Getting a cue: The need to belong and enhanced sensitivity to social cues

Cynthia L. Pickett*, Wendi L. Gardner, Megan Knowles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

588 Scopus citations


To successfully establish and maintain social relationships, individuals need to be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. In the current studies, the authors predicted that individuals who are especially concerned with social connectedness individuals high in the need to belong - would be particularly attentive to and accurate in decoding social cues. In Study 1, individual differences in the need to belong were found to be positively related to accuracy in identifying vocal tone and facial emotion. Study 2 examined attention to vocal tone and accuracy in a more complex social sensitivity task (an empathic accuracy task). Replicating the results of Study 1, need to belong scores predicted both attention to vocal tone and empathic accuracy. Study 3 provided evidence that the enhanced performance shown by those high in the need to belong is specific to social perception skills rather than to cognitive problem solving more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1107
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Belonging
  • Empathic accuracy
  • Interpersonal sensitivity
  • Rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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