Identity-Complexity, Stigmatised Identities and Psychological Well-being in Adolescents
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I request that my thesis is embargoed for 18 months as it is intended for my thesis to be published in the European Journal of Social Psychology and it has not been submitted for peer review as yet.
Research suggests that people define themselves, at least in part, in terms of their group memberships and that their psychology often depends on the state of the groups that defines the self (Haslam, Jetten, Postmes, & Haslam, 2009). Historically, the number of social groups in which people are active or with which they identity is seen as social capital and as leading to better mental health (e.g. identity-complexity, or social complexity, Linville, 1987). As such, social and clinical psychologists generally advocate and perpetuate the idea that multiple group membership and complex patterns of identification is psychologically beneficial to individuals. However, is identity-complexity straightforwardly positive for everyone? The current study examined how issues of identity-complexity are associated with psychological well-being in a young population (16-25). We hypothesised that identity-complexity might not be straightforwardly positive when multiple identities conflict with one another or when particular groups are stigmatised. The sample was made up of 464 young persons from a variety of social, cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds in schools, colleges, and universities. As hypothesised, participants who reported multiple identity conflicts and stigma were found to have less resilience and life satisfaction, and more depression and anxiety. Notably, findings also revealed that while it was psychologically advantageous for White participants to belong to multiple groups, the reverse was found for Black participants. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed. Results provide further insight on the relationship between multiple group membership and well-being.
Doctor of Clinical Psychology
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