National identification, a social cure for COVID-19? Evidence from 67 countries

Eric Bonetto*, Sylvain Delouvée, Yara Mahfud, Jais Adam-Troian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Social distancing and mass quarantines were implemented worldwide in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Prior research has shown that such measures bear negative consequences for population mental health and well-being. Conversely, a growing body of evidence suggests that feeling positively identified with a group is associated with physical and mental health benefits.

Aims: This study tested whether national identification could promote wellbeing and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method: We used survey data conducted among 67 countries (N = 46,450). 

Results: Mixed-model analyses revealed that national identity was associated with wellbeing – despite adjustment on social belonging, COVID-19 perceived risk, exposure and ideology. This effect did not extend to physical health. 

Conclusions: These results suggest that the mere feeling of belonging to a national group may have mental health benefits. We discuss the implications of our findings within the social cure framework and their relevance for population mental health under COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1116-1126
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • COVID-19
  • national identity
  • public health
  • social belonging
  • social cure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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