Prescribing a Social Cure: Social Connectedness in the Context of Social and Cognitive Stress

Sterling, Joanna (2014). Prescribing a Social Cure: Social Connectedness in the Context of Social and Cognitive Stress Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Sterling, Joanna
Thesis Title Prescribing a Social Cure: Social Connectedness in the Context of Social and Cognitive Stress
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Catherine Haslam
Total pages 73
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary There is a growing body of research to suggest that social connectedness increases resilience when exposed to stressful and adverse situations. This association has been observed in the workplace, following natural disasters, when completing novel activities and during life transitions. There is also evidence that social connectedness improves resilience outcome measures in areas such as disease susceptibility and recovery, cognitive decline and physical endurance. Researchers have proposed a number of explanations of how social connectedness influences resilience. This includes the social identity theory which proposes that when a social identity is shared and self-defining it acts as a psychological resource to increase resilience when an individual is facing adversity. A recent study in this area provided novel experimental evidence of the effects of social connectedness by varying the number of social groups made salient to participants. A greater number of salient groups increased physical resilience. The present study aimed to expand on these findings by using a similar methodology, but instead examining the effect of social connectedness in two unique areas: social and cognitive stress. Physiological measures, gathered from heart rate data, as well as a measure of attentional performance, to index cognitive resilience, were analysed. It was predicted that a higher number of salient social groups would decrease heart rate response, improve heart rate recovery and improve attentional performance. A number of other variables, including multiple group identification, social support, self-efficacy, collective self-esteem, and personality, were also investigated as possible effect mediators. No statistically significant effects were found between number of salient social groups and heart rate data for either test. Salient social groups also had no significant impact on attentional performance during a cognitive stress test.
Keyword Stress
Social connectedness
Cognitive psychology

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Created: Thu, 28 May 2015, 12:36:54 EST by Louise Grainger on behalf of School of Psychology