Well, new research by researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Queensland, Australia, suggests that membership of social groups has a positive impact on health and well-being.
The researchers highlights the importance of belonging to a range of social groups, of hanging onto social groups, and of building new social groups in dealing with life changes such as having a stroke and being diagnosed with dementia.
The researchers reviewed a number of previous studies, which identified a link between group membership, and physical and mental health.
Commenting on the latest work,
The researchers said that a 2008 study showed that being able to maintain valued group memberships played as important a role in positive recovery as an ability to overcome cognitive difficulties (e.g., problems with memory and language).
A 2009 study showed that those who participated as a group in decisions related to the decoration of communal areas used those areas 57 percent more over the next month and were far happier as a result.
Another 2009 study found that a strong sense of identity associated with perceived membership of social groups, was a much better predictor of residents’ well-being than their level of dementia.
The study has been published in Scientific American Mind, and the findings were presented at the British Science Festival.