Blog : Identity research

SESP Symposium

SESP Symposium

I really enjoyed taking part in a symposium organised by Serena Does and Margaret Shih on the 2016 US Presidential Election.


Michael Slepian presented data on why and how people kept their votes secret, and the implications of this for emotional well-being. I presented data showing that political group identification – usually a source of perceived personal agency – did not predict perceived personal control among Democrats 24 hours following the Election (although this relationship re-emerged 72 hours following the Election). Serena Does presented data on the implications of Trump’s election for perceived gender equity.


This was a great opportunity, providing a chance to debrief on the 2016 Election which, in addition to being a fascinating event in its own right, can teach us a lot about human psychology more broadly.

EASP Symposium on Applying the Social Cure

EASP Symposium on Applying the Social Cure

I will chair a symposium at the upcoming European Association for Social Psychology conference in Granada, Spain in July 2017.


An impressive body of work now shows that strong social connections—and the social identities they afford—have significant health and well-being benefits. Yet practitioners and policy makers are often at a loss for how to translate this research into effective interventions designed to leverage shared identity. This symposium presents five applications of these research findings in significant populations, and interventions built around their conclusions. Haslam introduces a social intervention designed for use in vulnerable populations, Groups 4 Health, that leads to significant improvement in mental health and loneliness at program completion and 6-months later. Bentley discusses the results of a sister intervention designed for application in the educational domain, Groups 4 Education, that leads to greater empowerment and intentions to continue studying among university students. Working with Public Health England, Ntontis presents the results of field research with community residents affected by flooding, finding that shared identities can be the basis of mobilizing social support, contributing to community resilience. Tarrant discusses the results of a group-based intervention designed to increase shared identity among patients experiencing aphasia after a stroke. Finally, Steffens presents a leadership development intervention, the 5R Program, that builds group-based organisational capacity and enhances employees’ well-being. Together, the talks introduce promising interventions with the potential to improve social and health outcomes in a diverse range of domains, from mental health treatment to emergency response, stroke recovery, and educational and organisational support.


1. Groups 4 Health: An intervention to increase social connectedness in clinical samples  

Cath Haslam, University of Queensland

2. Groups 4 Education: An intervention to increase social connectedness in academic samples

Sarah Bentley, University of Queensland

3. Developing community resilience through social identities

Evangelos Ntontis, University of Sussex

4. Development and evaluation of a group-based singing intervention in new patient groups

Mark Tarrant, University of Exeter

5. The 5R Program: A leadership intervention to promote engagement and health in organizations

Niklas Steffens, University of Queensland

SPSP Symposium on Social Cure Accepted

SPSP Symposium on Social Cure Accepted

I will co-chair a symposium with Christopher Begeny at the upcoming Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in San Antonio in January 2017.




What makes us healthy? This symposium showcases new frontiers in the social determinants of health. Four talks illustrate how our psychological connections to groups—social identities—have the power to both enhance and harm our health. Beginning with identity’s potential to harm health, Smart Richman shows that construing unhealthy behaviors as part of one’s ethnic identity increases unhealthy eating under stress. Branscombe shows how perceived lack of belonging in the U.S. undermines Arab Americans’ mental and physical health. Turning to identity’s power to enhance health, Begeny shows across four groups that subtle cues conveying value and acceptance shape identity in ways that promote mental health. Haslam reveals how identities can treat mental illness in one of the first longitudinal interventions of its kind. Overall, this symposium presents new ways of understanding what makes us healthy, outlining identity’s dual power to harm and to heal.


Effects of Discrimination on Health-Related Behaviors: An Identity-Based Motivational Model

Laura Smart Richman, Duke University


Where do I fit in? Arab Americans’ Identity and Health

Nyla R. Branscombe, University of Kansas


Everyday Interactions Turn Strength of “Me” into Strength of “We”

Christopher T. Begeny, University of California, Los Angeles


Unlocking the Social Cure: Groups 4 Health

S Alexander Haslam, The University of Queensland


SPSP Blog Post

SPSP Blog Post

Why do some efforts at communication succeed while others fail? We grapple with this issue in a recent paper in PSPB (Greenaway, Wright, Willingham, Reynolds, & Haslam, 2015), concluding that people communicate better with partners with whom they believe they have something in common – such as shared group membership. We gave participants identical instructions to complete Lego models, telling half of them that the instructions came from an ingroup member and the other half that the instructions came from an outgroup member. Then we sat back and watched how well they completed the models…

You can find more information in our post on the SPSP blog here.

EASP symposium in Amsterdam

EASP symposium in Amsterdam

I’m co-organising two symposia at EASP with Tegan Cruwys. The symposia will be held on Wednesday 9th July in Oudemanhuispoort room D0.09 and will discuss the latest research on The Social Cure. Please come along if you’re in the neighbourhood!

Social Identity and Health Part 1: Social identity promotes recovery in vulnerable populations  (9:00 – 10:40am)

*Please note, this symposium is listed with an incorrect title in the printed version of the program. These are the correct details.

Chaired by Jolanda Jetten and Tegan Cruwys

In Social Identity and Health Part 1, we explore the experience and expression of social identity among the most vulnerable members of society. Our presentations cover depression, multiple sclerosis, pregnancy, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and smoking cessation.

Tegan Cruwys – Social identification and depression recovery: The curative benefits of group membership

Fabio Sani – Group identification and mental health among multiple sclerosis patients, school pupils and pregnant women

Zoe Walter – Two pathways through adversity: Social identity, social support, and psychological well-being in a homeless sample

Genevieve Dingle – Breaking Bad: social identity and network changes can benefit wellbeing and recovery from substance misuse

Hugh Webb – The decline of brand identity and smoking behaviour following the introduction of plain packaging


Social Identity and Health Part 2: Social identity enhances resilience and well-being (11:05 – 12:45pm)

Chaired by Alex Haslam and Katie Greenaway

Social Identity and Health Part 2 explores how maintaining, crafting, and managing identity promotes resilience and well-being. We show that social identities do not merely promote freedom from illness, but enable people to thrive in a state of well-being.

Dario Spini – Social group participation, identity continuity and well-being after the loss of an intimate partner

Thomas Morton – Social inclusion enhances the health and well-being of seniors: Preliminary findings from the AGES project

Nik Steffens – Leaders enhance team members’ health and well-being by furthering social identity

Stuart Read – Coping with situational stigma: Ingroup ties, identity performance, and well-being in physical disability

Katie Greenaway – The control within, from without: Group identification improves health and well-being through increased perceived control

Presenting at ICSIH2

Presenting at ICSIH2

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I’m heading to Ottawa to present at the 2nd International Conference on Social Identity and Health and attend a CIFAR Social Interactions, Identity and Well-being program meeting.

I will be giving a snapshot presentation at ICSIH2 titled “Perceived control protects well-being following identity loss.” This research is part of my work on identity with researchers at the University of Queensland. Looking forward to seeing Ottawa and some interesting talks!

You can see the talk here.