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, 91 (5), 1037-52

Stressing the Group: Social Identity and the Unfolding Dynamics of Responses to Stress

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Stressing the Group: Social Identity and the Unfolding Dynamics of Responses to Stress

S Alexander Haslam et al. J Appl Psychol.

Abstract

Participants in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) prison study were randomly assigned to high-status (guard) and low-status (prisoner) groups. Structural interventions increased the prisoners' sense of shared group identity and their willingness to challenge the power of the guards. Psychometric, physiological, behavioral, and observational data support the hypothesis that identity-based processes also affected participants' experience of stress. As prisoners' sense of shared identity increased, they provided each other with more social support and effectively resisted the adverse effects of situational stressors. As guards' sense of shared identity declined, they provided each other with less support and succumbed to stressors. Findings support an integrated social identity model of stress that addresses intragroup and intergroup dynamics of the stress process.

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