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Measuring Sense of Community

Research has conclusively found that a sense of community (also described as social support, social cohesion, etc.) is one of the most important factors needed for social, psychological, and physical well-being. Community Science has been the leader in the field in the measurement of a sense of community. The Sense of Community Index version 2 (SCI-2) is based on a well-known theory introduced in a seminal piece on sense of community by David McMillan and Community Science’s CEO David Chavis in 1986. The authors describe sense of community using four elements: membership, influence, meeting needs, and a shared emotional connection. Community Science developed the measurement tool to help assess sense of community. It is the most frequently used measurement of sense of community among researchers and practitioners globally. The original tool was a 12-item scale. The current version of this assessment instrument – the SCI-2 (which is a 24-item scale with four subscales) – was developed to better reflect the four elements of the theory and advances in research on this topic.

To learn and share more about the current findings and use of the index, Community Science started gathering data from SCI-2 users in 2011. We resumed this effort in 2014. Our goal is to use the information gathered from SCI-2 users to begin to set up a system for benchmarking sense of community. This system will enable SCI-2 users to compare their results with those of others using this instrument globally. This will also help strengthen the validity of the instrument. This information will be made available to users of the SCI-2 worldwide.

To date, we have collected data from about 40 users. The SCI-2 has been used in various contexts, including geographical communities (such as neighborhoods, city, or urban areas) and non-geographical communities (for example, K-12 schools, workplaces, military, online communities, religious institutions), and in over 15 countries such as Australia, Egypt, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Portugal, Serbia, Thailand, the Netherlands, and the United States. To our knowledge, it has been translated into over 10 languages including Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Thai. The SCI-2 was used with a wide age range of participants – as young as 8 and as old as 95 years of age. The sample sizes of these studies ranged from as small as 22 to as big as 2,000.

If you want to become part of the sense of community learning community, join us at for resources and discussion.

For further information, please see:

Hyde, M. M. & Chavis, D.M. (2006) Sense of community and community building. In R.A. Cnaan and C. Milofsky (eds.) Handbook of community movements and local organizations; New York, Springer.

Chavis, D. M. & Wandersman, A. (1990). Sense of community in the urban environment:  A catalyst for participation and community development. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 55?81.

Chavis, D.M. (n.d.). Strategic factors for building community: The five c’s community, connections, control, cash, & collective action. Available at

Chavis, D.M., Lee, K.S., & Acosta, J.D. (2008). The sense of community (SCI) revised: The reliability and validity of the SCI-2. Paper presented at the 2nd International Community Psychology Conference, Lisboa, Portugal.

McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14(January), 6–23.

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