Social Identification Moderates Cognitive Health and Well-being Following Story-and Song-based Reminiscence

Catherine Haslam
S. Alexander Haslam
Renate Ysseldyk
Lauren-Grace McCloskey
Kaylen Pfisterer
Susan G. Brown


Objectives: Reminiscence is a popular intervention for seniors, but, with mixed evidence supporting its efficacy, questions have been raised about the mechanisms underlying improvement. The present paper addresses this question by investigating the degree to which health effects depend on the development of a shared sense of group identification. This is examined in the context of traditional story-based reminiscence as well as novel forms of song-based reminiscence. Method: As the focus of a manualized intervention, 40 participants were randomly assigned to secular song (n = 13), religious song (n = 13), or standard story reminiscence (n = 14) groups. These were run over six weeks with cognitive performance, anxiety, and life satisfaction measured before and after the intervention. Measures of group fit were included to examine whether social identification contributed to outcomes. Results: No evidence of change emerged over time as a function of intervention form alone, but analysis of identification data revealed significant interactions with the type of reminiscence group. Specifically, initial fit with the story reminiscence group was associated with enhanced cognitive outcomes and greater life satisfaction, while fit with the religious song reminiscence group was associated with greater life satisfaction and less anxiety. Conclusion: These findings show that group identification is a key moderator through which reminiscence promotes health outcomes. Implications for theory and practice highlight an inherent limitation in randomized controlled trials insofar as they may compromise participants’ group identification. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)