About IWAH

Identification with all humanity (IWAH)

People who strongly identify themselves with all humanity feel connected to people all over the world, perceive them as members of their own group, and care for them.

The concept of such a wide social identification often causes two types of reactions: the first is from those who consider the prevalence of such identification in the era of globalization and global problems, as obvious. They argue that all people are a part of one community—humanity. They often identify with people all over the world themselves, so they understand this kind of connection. Second, there are those who argue that it is impossible to feel a bond with all humanity and doubt the existence of such a broad social identification, which they do not feel themselves.

Where do these differences between people come from and what are their consequences? Our research aims to bring the answers to these questions.

Two approaches in research upon broad social identifications


There are two approaches in the research upon broad social identifications, such as identification with all humanity: situational and dispositional (see, e.g., Hamer, McFarland & Penczek, 2019; Hamer, Penczek & Bilewicz, 2017).

The first approach, situational, is based on the research on Common Ingroup Identity Model (CIIM; Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000), which shows how a situational activation of a broad social identification (e.g., with “humans”) positively affects attitudes toward former outgroup members who have now become fellow members of a new superordinate common ingroup. Apart from multiple positive outcomes, such a situational activation of superordinate common categories can sometimes trigger negative ones (see, e.g., Greenaway, Louis & Wohl, 2012; Morton & Postmes, 2011). The endurance of these situational activations over time is not known.

The second approach, dispositional, present in the studies on identification with all humanity (IWAH) considers broad social identifications as dispositional individual characteristics (e.g., Hamer et al., 2017, 2018, 2019; McFarland & Hornsby, 2015; McFarland, Webb, & Brown, 2012; McFarland et al., 2019). Most studies of the Identification With All Humanity LAB focus on this approach. The research shows that identification with all humanity treated as a stable disposition is connected to many positive social consequences (so far, no negative ones have been found), which are presented in details in the review paper by McFarland and colleagues (2019) and our other publications. Also, studies by McFarland and colleagues (2012) showed general stability of identification with all humanity in individuals over time as well as the similarity of IWAH estimates of the individual by close persons and self-scores of the individual. Research shows identification with all humanity to be relatively free from the need for social approval and social desirability responding.

Our research has mainly used the Identification with All Humanity Scale (McFarland, et al., 2012), which is available in different languages in our Resources section. The latest cross-country studies on the IWAH scale (including a factorial structure and a measurement equivalence between countries) are described in a paper by Hamer and colleagues (2020; see https://iwahlab.com/publications).

However, we note that similar research is being conducted using the Global Social Identification Scale (Reese, Proch, & Cohrs, 2014), the Psychological Sense of Global Community Scale (Malsch, 2005), the Global Citizenship Identification Scale (Reysen & Katzarska-Miller (2013), and others. See the review paper by McFarland and colleagues (2019) for a recent summary of work with these scales.

You can find more information on IWAH, its antecedents and social consequences in our publications section