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Project Title:Dimensions of Social Identity
Contact:Karen Trew, Cate Cox, Peter Ward
Address: School of Psychology
Queens University
Telephone:01232 245133


The project involved a survey of 982 people drawn from the Northern Ireland population and interviewed in their homes by trained interviewers from Research and Evaluation Services. The survey was the first to employ a range of methods to establish the nature, importance, and strength of socio-political identities to people in Northern Ireland. Asked to select one identity from an array of 11, the predominant identifications were national (British, Irish) and religious identities (Protestant, Catholic). Political identities (unionist, nationalist) attracted very few people. The choice of second identity mainly produced the expected identity combinations (British-Protestant, Irish-Catholic). Overall, age, gender, occupational group and area of residence were associated with some minor variation in the relative attraction of the identity labels rather than the substantial differences observed in the identity choices of those from Protestant and Catholic community backgrounds. The analysis of the survey data enabled us to provide profiles of those who identified themselves as British Protestant, Catholic Irish or Northern Irish. For example, the Northern Irish identity was the third most popular identity choice for both Protestants and Catholics. Those who chose it evaluated it highly but not as highly as those of other identities. Overall the survey highlighted the multifaceted nature of identification. As well as the traditional divisions there were signs of flexibility and similarity.


Trew, K and Benson, D. (In press). Defining ourselves. Dimensions of Social Identity in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies.

Trew, K, Cox, C and Ward, P. (1995). Dimensions of Social Identity in Northern Ireland. Report.

Trew, K. (1996). Complementary of Conflicting Identities. The Psychologist. pp. 460-463.

Trew, K and Benson, D. (1996). The Salience and Authenticity of Socio-political Identities in Northern Ireland. International Journal of Psychology, 31, 302.

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