The Keys That Bind Us: Belongingness in Discord Servers



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The need to belong is one of the three fundamental needs proposed and supported by self-determination theory (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness; Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Ryan & Deci, 2017), and its satisfaction is associated with increased human functioning and thriving (Gere & MacDonald, 2010). Aside from previous research assessing Discord's use as a distance-oriented communication tool for remote learning (Kruglyk et al., 2020; Vladoiu & Constantinescu, 2020; Razell, 2020; Fonseca Cacho, 2020), there is little research published on Discord assessing its ability to foster belongingness. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between feelings of belongingness and engagement on Discord servers. An online self-report questionnaire was administered to 128 undergraduate students (78.1% female; N = 100). Results show that the most important factor in a Discord server is its behavioral engagement, above and beyond membership length, purpose (academic, extracurricular, close friends, other), and even interaction. Opportunities for behavioral engagement are important for building a stable sense of community in a variety of contexts.