Community identification, social support, and loneliness: The benefits of social identification for personal well-being

Niamh McNamara, Clifford Stevenson*, Sebastiano Costa, Mhairi Bowe, Juliet Wakefield, Blerina Këllezi, Iain Wilson, Moon Halder, Elizabeth Mair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


Levels of loneliness across the world have reached epidemic proportions, and their impact upon population health is increasingly apparent. In response, policies and initiatives have attempted to reduce loneliness by targeting social isolation among residents of local communities. Yet, little is known about the social psychological processes underpinning the relationships between community belonging, loneliness, and well-being. We report three studies which apply the Social Identity Approach to Health to examine the mechanisms underpinning the relationships between community identity, health, and loneliness. Hypotheses were tested through secondary analyses of the 2014–2015 UK Community Life Survey (N = 4,314) as well as bespoke household surveys in a more (N = 408) and less (N = 143) affluent community at high risk of loneliness. Studies 1 and 2a demonstrated that the relationship between community identification and well-being was mediated by increased social support and reduced loneliness. In Study 2b, community identification predicted well-being through reduced loneliness, but not through social support. Our results are the first to evidence these relationships and suggest that community-level interventions that enhance community identification and peer support can promote a potential Social Cure for loneliness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1379-1402
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date4 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • community
  • loneliness
  • social cure
  • social identity
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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