Study reveals importance of shared global identity 

a shot of many hands belonging to people of different races centred in the frame.

23 April 2024

A recent study co-authored by Magdalen Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion (CSSC) Professor Harvey Whitehouse has shown that one of the best ways for humanity to overcome its greatest challenges is to nurture a shared global identity.

According to the results of a new study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the key could lie in two of the most potent drivers of social bonding – shared ancestry and shared transformative experiences.

In two studies, involving more than a thousand US participants, the researchers investigated whether these two drivers could foster bonding and motivate prosocial action on a global scale.

The first study showed that watching a TED Talk by journalist A. J. Jacobs that explained how all humans shared a common ancestry, strengthened psychological bonds and prosocial behaviour, even across political divides.

The second study showed how focusing on the shared experience of motherhood strengthened social bonds on a global scale.

“Remembering that we are all related and all experience many of the same challenges in life,” said Professor Harvey Whitehouse, “could be the key to addressing a wide range of global problems, from intergroup conflicts to extreme poverty and the climate crisis.”

Overall, the study offers hope for fostering global cooperation and collective action by emphasising commonality among humanity, providing a path towards a more united future.