Shared social identity transforms social relations in imaginary crowds

Fergus G. Neville, David Novelli, John Drury, Stephen D. Reicher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we present three studies that address the difference between physical and psychological groups, the conditions which create a transformation from the one into the other, and the psychological processes underlying this transformation. In Study 1 we demonstrate correlations between shared social identity, desired physical proximity to others and positive emotions in the company of others. Study 2, employing a between-subjects design, finds that an event which creates shared fate, such as the breakdown of a train, leads to greater comfort in social interactions (e.g. ease of conversation) and comfort in sensual interactions (e.g. tolerance of the physical touch) with other passengers, and that this occurs through an increase in shared social identity but not through social identification. Study 3 obtains similar findings using a within-subjects design. In combination, these studies provide consistent evidence for the role of shared social identity in the emergence of psychological from physical groups.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
VolumeOnline First
Early online date5 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2020


  • Shared identity
  • Social identity
  • Crowds
  • Group behaviour
  • Social identification
  • Social interaction
  • Intimacy
  • Intragroup relations
  • Positive emotions
  • Group processes
  • Shared social identity


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