University of Limerick
Walsh_2015_social.pdf (1.47 MB)

A social identity approach to acquired brain injury (ABI)

Download (1.47 MB)
posted on 2023-02-20, 12:38 authored by R. Stephen Walsh
The central argument put forward in this thesis is that, in the context of acquired brain injury (ABI) social identity matters. The first article is a theoretical paper which reviews an emerging literature that is trying to draw together social psychology and neuropsychology in the study of ABI. This article argues that the social identity approach is an appropriate vehicle for such integration and introduces the concept of identity sub-types based on belonging and based on participation in activities. Social support is recognized as an important factor in rehabilitation following ABI. The second paper is an empirical study which employs the concepts of affiliative and self as doer identities to explore reciprocal relationships between social identity, social support, and emotional status following ABI. Results support a hypothesised model indicating that affiliative identities have a significant indirect relationship with emotional status via social support and self as doer identification. Evidence supports an ‘upward spiral’ between social identity and social support such that affiliative identity makes social support possible and social support drives self as doer identities. The third paper examines relationships between cause of ABI, level of disability, stigma, survivor identity, and quality of life amongst a group of ABI survivors. This study found that cause of injury and disability severity, had a significant mediated relationship with quality of life outcomes via stigma and survivor identity. The fourth paper, presenting the third and final study, was a longitudinal investigation that explored how the understandings that people have of themselves, as expressed in their affiliative and self as doer self-categorisations, impact anxiety. Anxiety is of particular importance following ABI because anxiety has been identified as a significant predictor of functional outcomes. Results indicate that, over time, identity continuity and multiplicity following ABI contribute to lower levels of anxiety. Social identities matter.



  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Stephen Gallagher

Second supervisor

Orla T. Muldoon





Department or School

  • Psychology

Usage metrics




    Ref. manager