A trouble shared is a trouble halved: the role of family identification and identification with humankind in well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic

Svenja B. Frenzel, Nina M. Junker, Lorenzo Avanzi, Aidos Bolatov, S. Alexander Haslam, Jan A. Häusser, Ronit Kark, Ines Meyer, Andreas Mojzisch, Lucas Monzani, Stephen Reicher, Adil Samekin, Valerie A. Schury, Niklas K. Steffens, Liliya Sultanova, Dina Van Dijk, Llewellyn E. van Zyl, Rolf Van Dick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered health-related anxiety in ways that undermine peoples’ mental and physical health. Contextual factors such as living in a high-risk area might further increase the risk of health deterioration. Based on the Social Identity Approach, we argue that social identities can not only be local that are characterized by social interactions, but also be global that are characterized by a symbolic sense of togetherness and that both of these can be a basis for health. In line with these ideas, we tested how identification with one’s family and with humankind relates to stress and physical symptoms while experiencing health-related anxiety and being exposed to contextual risk factors. We tested our assumptions in a representative sample (N = 974) two-wave survey study with a 4-week time lag. The results show that anxiety at Time 1 was positively related to stress and physical symptoms at Time 2. Feeling exposed to risk factors related to lower physical health, but was unrelated to stress. Family identification and identification with humankind were both negatively associated with subsequent stress and family identification was negatively associated with subsequent physical symptoms. These findings suggest that for social identities to be beneficial for mental health, they can be embodied as well as symbolic.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date16 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Health-related anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Family identification
  • Identification with humankind
  • Social identity approach
  • Mental and physical health

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