People belonging to many groups have better self-esteem than with large network of friends

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Published: June 16, 2015 11:20:19 PM

A new study has revealed that group memberships boost self-esteem in people more than the friends alone.

A new study has revealed that group memberships boost self-esteem in people more than the friends alone.

CIFAR fellows Nyla Branscombe (University of Kansas), Alexander Haslam and Catherine Haslam (both University of Queensland) recently collaborated with lead author Jolanda Jetten on experiments to explore the importance of group memberships for self-esteem.

Working with groups of school children, the elderly, and former homeless people in the United Kingdom, China and Australia, their studies showed consistently that people who belong to many groups, whatever their nature, had higher self-esteem.

However, this relationship was only apparent when people considered the group in question to contribute to their sense of who they were; that is, when they were a basis for social identity.

The researchers compared group memberships to the number of friends people had, and found that having a large network of friends did not predict self-esteem, but belonging to multiple groups did. The authors argue that groups provide benefits that interpersonal ties alone do not; namely, meaning, connection, support and a sense of control over our lives.

The new study could signal a shift away from thinking about self-esteem as something that comes solely from inside of people.

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