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Health and Identity Lab

Friends standing on top of mountain at dusk

Our research examines the ways our mental and physical health is fundamentally shaped by our social relationships and social connectedness. A particular focus of our work is on the vital role of the social groups in determining health outcomes. Social identities are those groups to which we subjectively belong, and consider an important part of who we are.

In our research, we use a diverse array of research designs including lab and field-based experiments, intensive longitudinal studies, qualitative investigations with vulnerable communities, and randomised controlled trials. Through this varied and flexible approach, we contribute to efforts to find solutions to problems of national and global significance. For instance, we investigate the role of discrimination, poverty, and loneliness in contributing to mental illness and health inequality. We investigate the factors that drive peoples’ engagement in behaviours that enhance health (e.g., physical activity and healthy eating), as well as behaviours that can harm health (e.g., risky behaviours such as binge drinking and drug taking). Our research also focuses on designing, implementing, and testing theory-driven health interventions.

We work with diverse populations and in a wide array of contexts. These include young people at mass gatherings, members of sports teams and exercise groups, retirees, people experiencing depression, trauma or chronic illness. Our lab has also worked in partnership with 20 different community organisations, and over 150 researchers across 14 countries. We have particularly strong links with the University of Queensland, University of Exeter, University of Otago, Bournemouth University, and University of Edinburgh.


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  • Representative Publications

Crimston, C. R., Jetten, J., & Selvanathan, H. P. (2024). “Fight like hell”: Projected moral polarisation predicts anticipated conflict and the perceived responsibility to overturn an election loss. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 0(0), 13684302231223896. https://doi.org/10.1177/13684302231223896

Cruwys, T. (2023). Future Directions in Addressing Loneliness Among Older Adults. Advances in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, 3(1), 187-195. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypsc.2023.03.008

Cruwys, T., Brossard, B., Zhou, H., Helleren-Simpson, G., Klik, K. A., Van Rooy, D., Batterham, P. J., & Calear, A. L. (2023). Disciplinary differences in the study of the relationship between social variables and mental health: A systematic mapping review. Health, 27(5), 810-828. https://doi.org/10.1177/13634593211063049

Cruwys, T., Corkin, N., & Pasalich, D. S. (2024). Reduced Identification as a Mother Mediates the Effect of Prenatal Risk Factors on Mother and Infant Socio-Emotional Functioning. Journal of Child and Family Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-024-02808-z

Cruwys, T., Haslam, C., Haslam, S. A., & Dingle, G. A. (2023). Misery loves company: Predictors of treatment response to a loneliness intervention. Psychotherapy Research, 33(5), 608-624. https://doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2022.2143300

Cruwys, T., Lee, G. C., Robertson, A. M., Haslam, C., Sterling, N., Platow, M. J., Williams, E., Haslam, S. A., & Walter, Z. C. (2023). Therapists who foster social identification build stronger therapeutic working alliance and have better client outcomes. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 124, 152394. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2023.152394

Cruwys, T., Macleod, E., Heffernan, T., Walker, I., Stanley, S. K., Kurz, T., Greenwood, L.-M., Evans, O., & Calear, A. L. (2023). Social group connections support mental health following wildfire. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-023-02519-8

Cruwys, T., Selwyn, J., Rathbone, J. A., & Frings, D. (2024). Discrimination and social identity processes predict impairment and dysfunction among heavy drinkers. Social Science & Medicine, 343, 116549. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116549

Cruwys, T., South, E. I., Halford, W. K., Murray, J. A., & Fladerer, M. P. (2023). Measuring “we-ness” in couple relationships: A social identity approach. Family Process, 62(2), 795-817. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12811

Donaldson, J. L., Cruwys, T., Dawel, A., & Chen, J. (2024). Multiple group memberships protect against anticipatory anxiety for social situations. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 34(1), e2713. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2713

Dunstone, E. K., Reynolds, K. J., & Cárdenas, D. (2024). The role of group memberships and school identification on student well-being. British Journal of Social Psychology, 63(1), 403-428. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12685

Evans, O., Hardacre, S., Rubin, M., & Tran, M. (2023). Content appraisal and age moderate the relationship between passive social media use and mental ill-being [Original Research]. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1181233

Ferris, L. J., Cruwys, T., Rathbone, J. A., Stevens, M., & Jiang, Y. (2023). Managing youth leisure mass gatherings: A coordinated service response for ‘Safer Schoolies’. Leisure Studies, 42(5), 769-787. https://doi.org/10.1080/02614367.2022.2143877

Rathbone, J. A., Cruwys, T., Jetten, J., Banas, K., Smyth, L., & Murray, K. (2023). How conceptualizing obesity as a disease affects beliefs about weight, and associated weight stigma and clinical decision-making in health care. British Journal of Health Psychology, 28(2), 291-305. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12625

Rathbone, J. A., Cruwys, T., Jetten, J., & Barlow, F. K. (2023). When stigma is the norm: How weight and social norms influence the healthcare we receive. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 53(3), 185-201. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.12689

Rathbone, J. A., Cruwys, T., Stevens, M., Ferris, L. J., & Reynolds, K. J. (2023). The reciprocal relationship between social identity and adherence to group norms. British Journal of Social Psychology, 62(3), 1346-1362. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12635

Robertson, A. M., Cruwys, T., Stevens, M., & Platow, M. J. (2023). Aspirational leaders help us change: Ingroup prototypicality enables effective group psychotherapy leadership. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(1), 243-259. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/bjc.12406

Robertson, A. M., Cruwys, T., Stevens, M., & Platow, M. J. (2023). A social identity approach to facilitating therapy groups. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, No Pagination Specified-No Pagination Specified. https://doi.org/10.1037/cps0000178

Stevens, M., Davies, O., & Cruwys, T. (2023). The effect of descriptive norms on exercise output and exertion during a video-guided workout. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology., 12(4), 241–255. https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000329

Zhou, H., Cárdenas, D., & Reynolds, K. J. (2023). Norms and COVID-19 health behaviours: A longitudinal investigation of group factors. European Journal of Social Psychology, 53(4), 720-731. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2932

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