An exploration of sense of community, Part 3: Dimensions and predictors of psychological sense of community in geographical communities



Within the discipline of community psychology there remains considerable debate as to the latent structure of psychological sense of community (PSOC). One of the few theoretical discussions is that of McMillan and Chavis (1986), who hypothesized four dimensions: Belonging, Fulfillment of Needs, Influence, and Shared Connections. Discussion has also emerged in the literature regarding the role of identification within PSOC. However, few studies have empirically investigated the role of identification in PSOC. The current study explored PSOC in a sample of residents of rural, regional, and urban geographical communities (N = 669). In an endeavor to clarify the underlying dimensions of PSOC, a test battery included several measures of PSOC as well as measures of identification with the community. The study also examined the role of demographic factors in predicting PSOC. Results provided support for McMillan and Chavis' (1986) four dimensions of PSOC. Further, a fifth dimension emerged, that of Conscious Identification, suggesting that identification is separate to existing dimensions of PSOC. The demographic factors significantly associated with PSOC were type of region, with rural participants displaying higher PSOC than their urban counterparts; participation in local organizations; having children; and a vision of one's neighborhood as broader than just a street or block. These results, and the implications for PSOC research, are discussed. © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.