281. Belonging Uncertainty and Bridging Divides with Geoffrey Cohen

Belonging uncertainty is a common experience in social life. It is a feeling of not fitting into a particular social group or environment. People who experience this may feel like an outsider, isolated from those around them, or unable to connect with people in their environment. Professor of Psychology, Geoffery L. Cohen is here to remind us of the importance of fostering self-awareness to better understand our feelings and the actions we should take when faced with a sense of belonging uncertainty. 

Geoffery’s book Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides provides a fascinating look into the realm of social psychology and how it can be used to combat the daunting feeling of not belonging. Through Geoffery’s knowledge and insight, you will gain a clear understanding of the changes that can be made to conquer feelings of belonging uncertainty. His work is invaluable in the effort to empower individuals to create strong, meaningful connections and build bridges of understanding and empathy.

Listen and Learn: 

  • The role of social psychology in turning everyday encounters into opportunities for understanding, connection, and growth
  • An overview of Geoffery’s research on social problems
  • Belonging uncertainty unpacked 
  • How social climate can contribute to certain behaviors 
  • The concept of stereotype threat
  • How can we cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace
  • What can be done to change that feeling of not belonging?
  • The difference between perspective gathering and perspective taking
  • Bridging the divide by helping people feel heard and understood


About Geoffrey L. Cohen

Geoffrey L. Cohen is a Professor of Psychology and the James G. March Professor of Organizational Studies in Education and Business at Stanford University. He is a social psychologist by training and received his PHD at Stanford and his BA at Cornell. Professor Cohen’s research examines the processes that shape people’s sense of belonging and self-concept, and the role that these processes play in various social problems. He has studied the big and small threats to belonging and self-integrity that people encounter in school, work, health care settings, politics, communities, and relationships. He and others have developed concrete, science-backed strategies to create more welcoming spaces for people from all walks of life. He believes that the development of psychological theory depends not just on descriptive and observational research but on theory-driven intervention. He has long been inspired by Kurt Lewin’s quip, “The best way to understand something is to try to change it.”

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Episode 281