Express Yourself? Ease to Express One’s Identity Mediates the Relationship Between National Belonging and Mental Health

Scarf, D (University of Otago), Moradi, S (University of Otago), Hunter, J. (University of Otago)

A number of studies have reported a positive relationship between levels of national identification and well-being. Although this link is clear, the relationship is likely influenced by a number of other variables. In the current study, we examine one such variable: the ease with which people feel they can express their identity in the national context. Participants were drawn from three waves (2008-2012) of the biannual New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS). The NZGSS consists of a number of questions related to well-being. The current study utilised the questions related to national identification, ease to express one’s identity in New Zealand (i.e., “here in New Zealand, how easy or difficult is it for you to express your own identity?”), and mental health. When controlling for physical health, standard of living, and several demographic control variables, there was a clear relationship between national identification and mental health. Consistent with our hypothesis, ease to express one’s identity in New Zealand partially mediated the relationship between national identity and mental health. The findings suggest that there are still identities that people feel are stigmatised or discriminated against in New Zealand.

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Health and Social Identity