Tales of hope: Social identity and learning lessons from others in Alcoholics Anonymous: A test of the Social Identity Model of Cessation Maintenance.


Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research, School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, United Kingdom. Electronic address: [Email]


Social identities can facilitate positive recovery outcomes for people overcoming addiction. However, the mechanism through which such protective effects emerge are unclear. The social identity model of cessation maintenance posits that one such process may be contextualisation (the creation of meaning around relevant future events and actions which act in a protective fashion). The current paper tested the role of contextualisation by exploring the role of a common feature of addiction meetings, the sharing of a personal recovery story. Data were collected from an online sample of 170 members of Alcoholics Anonymous [AA] (mean age 45.4 years, 50% male). Participants rated their social identification with AA before reading an archetypal tale of hope. They then completed measures of contextualisation (the perceived self-relevance and utility of the tale) and measures of perceived quit efficacy and costs of relapse to self and others. Identity, relevance and utility positively related to quit efficacy and perceived cost of relapse to the self. High identification with AA was also related to higher story relevance and utility. However, no mediation relationship between identity and efficacy via story relevance or utility was observed. Perceived cost to self increased in line with identity, with an additional joint indirect mediation of social identity via both meditators. These findings provide a clear pattern of results linking identity to contextualisation (story relevance and utility) and contextualisation to outcome measures. They also support the role of contextualisation as an important component of group processes more generally.


Alcoholics anonymous,Efficacy,Identity,Recovery story,Relapse,

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