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