Group interaction: crucible of social identity

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

The collaboration with Emma Thomas and Craig McGarty has led to another exploration of models of social identity and collective action, accepted for publication in Group Processes and Intergoup Relations.


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.

The paper can be accessed online here:

A pre-press version is also available from the St Andrews repository.

Group Interaction Crucible header