The answer to the question ‘'who am I?'' has a concrete impact on both our relationships with the people around us and on our own well-being and mental health. In our individualistic societies, membership to cultural and social groups is fundamental and impacts on our psychological and physical health. We observed that the more individuals develop a sense of identification with a new cultural group and incorporate this new identity harmoniously within their self-concept, the better their ensuing psychological well-being. However, identifying with groups can also lead people to freely accept to engage in behaviors that are valued within their group but that have negative consequences for those who are not part of the group (discrimination).
The first objective of this research program is to better understand how identification with a new cultural group develops on a daily basis and comes to affect people's psychological well-being over the longer term. The second objective is to test how following harmful (i.e., discriminatory) group norms influences the well-being and mental health of the perpetrators. A third objective is to determine the extent to which our social identities can be broad and inclusive – so as to go beyond the scope of human relationships and to include even animals – and test whether such a social identity has a beneficial impact on human psychological health.
This research will open the door to new interventions and public policies that will not only allow to optimize population mental health but that will also improve the relations between members of different cultural and social groups.