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Developing social identities - Psychological Identity in a Digital World
Photo by Thiago Borges from Pexels

Credit: Thiago Borges

We use computational social science techniques to assess the development of psychological identities over time in naturally occurring linguistic data (e.g., online posts). We examine the link between salient identities with relevant health outcomes including postnatal depression and addiction relapse.

We are currently focusing on the following identities:

(1) Development of a parent identity during pregnancy and links to post-natal depression (PND)

(2) Development out of an addiction identity and into a recovery identity, and the link to multiple online community memberships


Parent identity & PND

Little quantitative research is available to understand at which point parents-to-be think of themselves as parents, and how the salience of a parent identity relates to mental health after the birth of a child. Post-natal depression affects 10-20% of new mothers and fathers, with debilitating consequences for the whole family including the newborn child.

Our research uses online forum posts from anonymous, public parenting forums. We assess parent identity salience over the course of 9 months of pregnancy up to 3 month after birth (when most PND diagnoses occur) with an ASIA tool.

Addiction recovery & online communities

In this part of the project, we use computational social science techniques to assess whether being part of multiple online communities reduces the risk of relapse for those in recovery, as well as the role that the salience of an addiction, recovery and depression identity, respectively, plays. Our research tests the Social Identity Model of Recovery (SIMOR; Best et al., 2015).


This research is conducted by Dr Elahe Naserian-Hanzaei, postdoctoral research fellow, with Dr Miriam Koschate-Reis (PI). The work is supported by our internship students, Ms Jodie Hall and Ms Rada Biyukova.


EPSRC Innovation Fellowship “Psychological Identity in a Digital World” (EP/S001409/1; Fellow: Dr Miriam Koschate-Reis)

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