Research Axes

AXIS 1: INTEGRATION OF NEW SOCIAL IDENTITIES

Based on the principles from cognitive and developmental psychology, we have proposed a theoretical model aimed at explaining the processes and the stages through which social identities change and develop over time (Amiot, de la Sablonnière, Terry, & Smith, 2007; Amiot & de la Sablonnière, 2008, 2010). This model is supported by empirical research. For instance, we have found that social identities do change significantly during important life transitions (Amiot, Terry, Wirawan, & Grice, 2010; de la Sablonnière, Amiot, & Sadykova, 2012). Receiving social support (Amiot et al., 2010) and feeling validated in the group context (Smith, Amiot, Callan, & Smith, 2012) predict an increased identification with the new social group over time. In contrast, feeling an imbalance between the importance of our different identities (Smith, Amiot, Smith, Callan, & Terry, 2012) or perceiving important differences between our groups’ social statuses (de la Sablonnière et al., 2012) impedes the integration of these multiple social identities. A measuring instrument developed to capture the four stages proposed by the model is currently undergoing validation (Yampolsky, Amiot, & de la Sablonnière, 2012) and statistical measures have been developed to capture identity integration (de la Sablonnière et al., 2012). We are currently conducting a longitudinal study among international students in Montréal (www.CIELMontreal.ca) to further investigate these dynamics of identity change.

AXIS 2: INTERNALISATION OF HARMFUL SOCIAL BEHAVIOURS

Social identity – that part of the individual’s self-concept that derives from belonging to social groups – can lead to harmful behaviours such as discrimination, especially if a particular social identity is salient and that the groups involved feel threatened (McGarty, 2001). Social identity is also associated with a greater endorsement of group norms: The more individuals identify with their social group, the more likely their behaviours will be influenced by the norms of this group (Turner et al., 1987). Based on this prior work, axis 2 seeks to determine if belonging to a social group that encourages harmful behaviours (e.g., discrimination) will facilitate the internalization of these behaviours, such that they are endorsed freely and out of choice and that they are coherent with the person’s own values. While our experimental research has found that harmful behaviours may be somewhat difficult to internalize in the lab (Amiot, Sansfaçon, Louis, & Yelle, 2012; Sansfaçon & Amiot, 2012), correlational studies conducted in the field revealed that harmful behaviours can be internalised and that social identification facilitates this internalisation (Amiot, Sansfaçon, & Louis, 2012ab).

AXIS 3 : SUPERORDINATE IDENTITIES AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING

This research axis is new. We will present more information about this axis as soon as our papers are in press!