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Identity, behaviour and wellbeing

Project Description

Social psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists and recently economists, have been trying to understand the significance of personal and social identities across different domains – gender, ethnic and racial background, religion, nationality, occupation, and so on (Baarth 1969, Tajfel 1981, Turner et al 1994, Akerlof and Kranton 2010). While identity on an individual level is expected to be associated with higher self-esteem and wellbeing as well as adherence to certain behavioural norms, social identity, that is identification with groups, is often linked with behaviour that is favourable towards the in-group and biased against out group. This project aims to (i) understand how individual characteristics , experiences particularly adversities and contextual factors are associated with identity across different domains, (ii) examine patterns of identity acculturation in a multicultural society across ethnic minorities and majority, (iii) estimate the relationship between identity across different domains and mental health and wellbeing, and (iv) estimate the role of identity on labour market activities and educational attainment.

This project contributes to this field by testing whether and to what extent theories developed and then tested on small sample surveys or using experiments hold when tested on a large nationally representative sample, specifically the UK. This project builds on previous work on the measurement of ethnic identity and identity across other domains of life. That led to identity measures being included in Understanding Society, the largest UK household longitudinal survey and the only data source for longitudinal analysis of ethnicity and migration related research.

Team Members

Dr Alita Nandi, Research Fellow, ISER, University of Essex
Dr Mark Bryan, Reader in Economics, University of Sheffield


Journal articles

“Interview mode and the measurement of identity in longitudinal surveys” (with L. Platt) International Journal of Survey Research Methods (Forthcoming) DOI 10.1080/13645579.2016.1165495
“Minority and Majority Identification in a Multicultural Society” (with L. Platt), Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2015, 38(15): 2615-2634.
“Developing ethnic identity questions for Understanding Society” (with L.Platt), Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 2012, 3(1):80-100
“Measuring ethnicity: challenges and opportunities for survey research” (with with J. Burton and L. Platt), Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2010, 33(8): 1332-1349.

Working papers

“Working hours, work identity and subjective wellbeing” (with M. Bryan), 2015 ISER Working Paper Series No. 2015-21.
“A note on ethnicity and identity among the UK born population in Understanding Society” (with L. Platt) ISER Working Paper Series No. 2014-04, 2014.


“Ethnic identity in context: the influence of forms of contact on majority and minority social identities” (with L. Platt)
“Understanding the role of competing identities for the salience of ethnic identity” (with L. Platt)