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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