My research brings an innovative perspective to the study of group processes and intergroup relations in social psychology, by focusing on the different ways in which people can temporally and historically understand their national identity. Based on an innovative theoretical integration between the social identity perspective and recent theory on identity motivation, I showed that perceptions of identity continuity play an important and unique role in how people feel about their national in-group and about social developments and immigrant out-groups (Smeekes & Verkuyten, 2013, 2015). I also demonstrated that the way in which national identity affects attitudes towards immigrant out-groups is dependent on the particular historical contents people ascribe to this identity (Smeekes, Verkuyten, & Poppe, 2011, 2012). More recently, my research interests focus on collective nostalgia as another way in which people can temporally understand their national identity (e.g., Smeekes, 2015). I am currently mainly working on this topic, studying how, when and why collective nostalgia for the good old days of the country is related to attitudes towards immigrants.
My PhD thesis titled “The presence of the past: Historical rooting of national identity and current group dynamics” focused on historical understandings of national identity and intergroup relations in the Netherlands and it was awarded with the Academy’s Rae and Dr. Dan Landis Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2015.