What about the social parts of the self that aren’t group memberships?

Team: Dr Kasia Banas, Dr Lillian Smyth

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

The value of social group memberships for protecting wellbeing under stress is now well established. Group memberships, though, aren’t the whole story when we’re talking about the social aspects of the self concepts. Relationships, roles and social landscapes are also meaningful parts of the self. “Me and my husband” is not necessarily a group, but it is certainly an important and social part of how some people understand themselves. Similarly, “me as a university student” might not be perceived as associated with a group, so much as a designated social role in a larger system. “Me when I’m alone” and “me in a crowd” would also fail the where’s-the-group test, but that doesn’t mean they are not psychologically meaningful parts of the social self. Which then begs the question: how are the social aspects of the self that are not associated with groups related to wellbeing under stress? Is the magic in the “groupiness” or just the “socialness”?

Banas & Smyth (2021)

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