Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Many refugees moving into Greece and other European countries often struggle to adjust to their new life. Over and above other factors, social isolation seems to be a major contributor in their poor adjustment outcomes, yet the underlying psychological mechanisms of their links are not well understood. Based on the Social Identity Model of Identity Change, we conceptualized refugees’ adjustment as a major life transition that depends on (i) the maintenance of existing pre-migratory group memberships (social identity continuity pathway), (ii) the development of new post-migratory social identities (social identity gain pathway), and (iii) the perceived compatibility between pre- and post-migratory identities. Belonging to multiple groups before displacement should facilitate both pathways. To test this idea, a longitudinal study with two measurement points over four months was conducted. The sample consisted of 60 asylum seekers in Greece. Using multilevel modeling, we found that social identity continuity and gain were positively related to socio-cultural adjustment, health-related adjustment, and well-being. Adjustment outcomes at Time 2 were predicted by the levels of social identity continuity at Time 1, and by group memberships before displacement through the two pathways at Time 1. Significant interactions also emerged between perceived compatibility and the two pathways. In general, the findings are consistent with SIMIC’s theorizing suggesting that to understand refugees’ adjustment in host countries, it is important to systematically consider the social identity processes that unfold over time.


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Angelos Panagiotopoulos, Department of Psychology, School of Philosophy (office 504), Zografos University Campus, 157 84 Athens, Greece. Contact:

The research work was supported by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) under the 3rd Call for HFRI PhD Fellowships (Fellowship Number: 5220)

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