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Feeling Valued in (Racial, Ethnic, Sexual Minority, Student-based and Organizational) Groups: How One Comes to Feel Valued, and Its Downstream Health Implications


This program of research examines how individuals come to feel valued and admired within the social groups they belong to (intragroup status), and its downstream implications for health. Four studies (Papers 1 and 2; total N = 1,807) first examine the downstream mental health implications of feeling valued within one’s own ethnic or sexual minority group. Results support the proposed intragroup status and health (ISAH) model, which explains how feeling valued in one’s minority group has benefits for health but also indirect costs (through the way it shapes minorities’ identity and discrimination experiences). Stepping back, three additional studies (Paper 3; total N = 1,007) examine how individuals come to feel admired within social groups. Tests of a new conceptual model that applies not just to members of minority groups but other groups as well (e.g., workgroups, student groups) suggest that when individuals experience distinctive treatment in a group—instances where other group members seek out their guidance, or ask them to provide some form of expertise that can benefit the group—it emboldens their sense of intragroup status and, downstream, promotes greater mental health (explained via identity-based processes). Overall, this program of research offers integration and advancement of multiple theoretical frameworks that ultimately aim to help explain how individuals’ health is shaped by their everyday experiences within a variety of important social groups.

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