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Ontario Society of Adlerian Psychology

Gemeinschaftsgefuhl ~ Advancing Adlerian Psychology in Ontario Through Social Interest, Sense of Belonging, Community Feeling and Equality

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Social Interest, Does It Matter?

by Charmaine McIntosh | on April 09, 2016

A main concept of the individual psychology of Alfred Adler is ‘Social Interest’ which is innate and developed from early childhood. ‘Gemeinschaftsgefuehl’ is the German word for this concept.  Social interest is about community feeling, social feeling, connecting with others, being interested in and feeling for others, and the willingness to contribute. Adler believed that “true social interest must take the form of some kind of contribution” (Ansbacher and Ansbacher, p. 141). People try to find their place in society and a sense of belonging.  With social interest, we act in a ‘useful’ way in life, we are concerned about the welfare of others, and we work together in a helpful way in society. Without social interest, the individual can become concerned only with him/herself.  Social interest means being able to see with the eyes of another, hear with the ears of another and feel with the heart of another. Do we see social interest in today’s society with the ‘me generation’ and individuals who have a sense of entitlement, spoiled and self absorbed.  According to Dreikurs, “social interest is the expression of our capacity for give and take” (Dreikurs, p. 9).  Social interest DOES matter, and it can hold human beings and society together. What does social interest mean to you?  How is your social interest?

Social Interest 

     If you are interested in learning more about Adler's social interest, read his book,
     Social Interest: Adler's Key to the Meaning of Life.


Ansbacher, Heinz L. and Ansbacher, Rowena R. (Eds.). (1979). Superiority and social interest, 3rd Revised Edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company  .

Ansbacher, Heinz L. and Ansbacher, Rowena R. (Eds.). (1956). The individual psychology of Alfred Adler: A systemic presentation in selections from his writings.  New York, NY: Harper and Row Publishers.

Dreikurs, Rudolf R. (1989).  Fundamentals of Adlerian psychology. Chicago, IL: Adler School of Professional Psychology.

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