The benefits of belonging: National belonging as a resource for mental health and a potential buffer against the effects of ostracism for young and older adults
People develop strong emotional connections with the places they inhabit, similar to the connections formed between caregivers and infants. Moreover, as we get older, places come to form part of our identity. Taking a social identity approach, the current thesis investigates the relationship between national belonging and well-being. In Study 1, data from the New Zealand General Social Survey was utilised to investigate the relationship between a sense of belonging to New Zealand and mental well-being. Consistent with Hypothesis 1, a sense of belonging to New Zealand was positively associated with mental health. Further, consistent with Hypothesis 2, the positive relationship observed between a sense of belonging to New Zealand and mental health was stronger for older adults than young adults. Building on Study 1, in Study 2 we investigated whether the benefits of a sense of belonging to New Zealand could be leveraged to protect against the negative impact of ostracism. Specifically, young and older adults were primed with belonging to New Zealand or a control location before being ostracised. It was hypothesised that participants primed with New Zealand, relative to those primed with a control location, would be buffered against the negative impact of ostracism. Additionally, it was hypothesised that this buffering effect would be stronger for older, compared to younger, adults. Neither hypothesis was supported. Priming participants with a sense of belonging to New Zealand did not buffer younger or older adults against the negative effects of ostracism. We discuss our findings in the context of research on the social identity approach and the ostracism literature more generally.
Advisor: Scarf, Damian
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; Belonging; Age; Ostracism; Cyberball
Research Type: Thesis