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Social Influence – The Social Cure

2. Early Research

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about some early research on how social identification relates to health and wellbeing, focusing in particular on: (i) Reicher and Haslam’s BBC Prison Experiment (2002), in which participants were divided into groups of ‘guards’ and ‘prisoners’, which found that strong identification with a particular group identity was related to better mental health outcomes for the participants; (ii) different research studies which have shown that having a shared social identity leads to better health outcomes for individuals by reducing stress and providing social support; (iii) two key publications by Jetten et al. (2009, 2012) which first outlined the social cure theory, suggesting that meaningful connections with groups has an important effect on both our physical and mental health.


In this course, Dr Mhairi Bowe (Nottingham Trent University) explores the social identity approach to health, also known as the ‘social cure’. In the first lecture, we think about the social identity approach in psychology more generally and how it relates to health and wellbeing. In the second lecture, we look at some early research in this area which led to the development of the social cure theory in the early 2000s. In the third lecture, we focus on more recent approaches to the social cure theory. Next, we think about how it can be applied practically to improve health outcomes in clinical and community settings. In the fifth module, we consider so-called ‘social curses’, instances where group identification can have a negative health impact on individual group members, e.g., due to stigmatisation. In the sixth and final lecture, we review the content from across the course.


Dr Mhairi Bowe is a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology and Mental Health in the Department of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University. Dr Bowe is a Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Dr Bowe lectures in social psychology, community psychology, mental health, and clinical practice at postgraduate and undergraduate levels. Dr Bowe supervises research projects at both undergraduate (BSc) and postgraduate levels (MSc and PhD), as well as running a series of tutorials and workshops. Some of Dr Bowe’s recent publications include ‘Weathering the storm together: family identification predicts future wellbeing during COVID-19 via enhanced financial resilience’ (2022) and ‘Community identification, social support, and loneliness: the benefits of social identification for personal well-being’ (2021).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bowe, M. (2020, February 13). Social Influence – The Social Cure - Early Research [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bowe, M. "Social Influence – The Social Cure – Early Research." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 13 Feb 2020,

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