Background: Groups are often a source of social identification that may elicit subjective well-being. When joining and maintaining membership of groups such as sport clubs, it is anticipated that members will experience varying trajectories of identification strength, but it is unclear how these trajectories may relate to well-being. Method: Participants were 697 college students (64% female), nested within 35 club-level sport teams. The current study longitudinally assessed students’ social identification with sport teams at three timepoints (3-month lags) across a school year to examine the extent that growth trajectories in identification strength predicted indices of well-being (i.e. life satisfaction, happiness, and subjective health) at the end of the school year. Results: Multilevel latent growth modeling revealed that end-of-year well-being was positively predicted by social identification intercepts (b =.24, p =.010) and growth trajectories (b =.75, p <.001). Accounting for baseline identification, steeper increases in social identification (upward trajectories) predicted greater well-being. Conclusions: Findings support established theory that social identification relates to well-being, while adding novel insights that students may experience unique benefits when their social identity strengthens over the course of a school year. Considering recent declines in college student well-being, groups like sport teams represent a source for social identification that should be fostered throughout the course of one’s group membership.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology