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.
|Number of pages||28|
|Journal||British Journal of Social Psychology|
|Early online date||2021|
|State||Published - Jan 2022|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation awarded to RvD, NMJ, and JAH (DI 848/15‐1 and HA 6455/4‐1). The data collection for this study was supported by a grant from the association of friends and supporters (Freunde & Förderer) at Goethe University.
© 2021 The Authors. British Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society