A substantial literature supports the important role that social group memberships play in enhancing health. While the processes through which group memberships constitute a “Social Cure” are becoming increasingly well defined, the mechanisms through which these groups contribute to vulnerability and act as a “Social Curse” are less understood. We present an overview of the Social Cure literature and then go beyond this to show how the processes underpinning the health benefits of group membership can also negatively affect individuals through their absence. First, we provide an overview of early Social Cure research. We then describe later research concerning the potential health benefits of identifying with multiple groups, before moving on to consider the “darker side” of the Social Cure by exploring how intra-group dynamics can foster Curse processes. Finally, we synthesise evidence from both the Cure and Curse literatures to highlight the complex interplay between these phenomena and how they are influenced by both intra- and inter-group processes. We conclude by considering areas we deem vital for future investigation within the discipline.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology