Taking the strain: social identity, social support, and the experience of stress

Br J Soc Psychol. 2005 Sep;44(Pt 3):355-70. doi: 10.1348/014466605X37468.


The social identity/self-categorization model of stress suggests that social identity can play a role in protecting group members from adverse reactions to strain because it provides a basis for group members to receive and benefit from social support. To examine this model, two studies were conducted with groups exposed to extreme levels of strain: patients recovering from heart surgery (Study 1), bomb disposal officers and bar staff (Study 2). Consistent with predictions, in both studies there was a strong positive correlation between social identification and both social support and life/job satisfaction and a strong negative correlation between social identification and stress. In both studies path analysis also indicated that social support was a significant mediator of the relationship between (a) social identification and stress and (b) social identification and life/job satisfaction. In addition, Study 2 revealed that group membership plays a significant role in perceptions of how stressful different types of work are. Implications for the conceptualization of stress and social support are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Family / psychology
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Environment
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires