Erfurth, Luise M.; Hernandez Bark, Alina S.; Molenaar, Carin; Aydin, Anna Lisa; van Dick, Rolf (2021):
"“If worse comes to worst, my neighbors come first”: Social Identity as a Collective Resilience Factor in Areas Threatened by Sea Floods." SN Social Sciences 1.11272.
Journal Article

Research on collective resilience processes still lacks a detailed understanding of psychological mechanisms at work when groups cope with adverse conditions, i.e., long-term processes, and how such mechanisms affect physical and mental well-being. As collective resilience will play a crucial part in facing looming climate change-related events such as floods, it is important to investigate these processes further. To this end, this study takes a novel holistic approach by combining resilience research, social psychology, and an archeological perspective to investigate the role of social identity as a collective resilience factor in the past and present. We hypothesize that social identification buffers against the negative effects of environmental threats in participants, which increases somatic symptoms related to stress, in a North Sea region historically prone to floods. A cross-sectional study (N = 182) was conducted to analyze the moderating effects of social identification on the relations between perceived threat of North Sea floods and both well-being and life satisfaction. The results support our hypothesis that social identification attenuates the relationship between threat perception and well-being, such that the relation is weaker for more strongly identified individuals. Contrary to our expectations, we did not find this buffering effect to be present for life satisfaction. Future resilience studies should further explore social identity as a resilience factor and how it operates in reducing environmental stress put on individuals and groups. Further, to help communities living in flood-prone areas better cope with future environmental stress, we recommend implementing interventions strengthening their social identities and hence collective resilience.