Group interaction as the crucible of social identity formation: A glimpse at the foundations of social identities for collective action

Emma Thomas, Craig McGarty, Ken Mavor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    85 Citations (Scopus)


    Many of the world’s biggest problems are being tackled through the formation of new groups yet very little research has directly observed the processes by which new groups form to respond to social problems. The current paper draws on seminal research by Lewin (1947) to advance a perspective as to how such identities form through processes of small group interaction. Multilevel structural equation modelling involving 58 small group discussions (with N = 234) demonstrates that focused group discussion can boost the commitment to take collective action, beliefs in the efficacy of that action, and members’ social identification with other supporters of the cause. The results are consistent with the new commitment to action flowing from emergent social identities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-151
    Number of pages15
    JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • collective action
    • small group interaction
    • social identity formation

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