Purpose – This chapter explores the effects of persistent identity nonverification on the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses used to “reclaim” an identity within the perceptual control model of identity theory.
Methodology/Approach – We conducted a within-subjects experiment invoking the “student” identity to examine the relationship between the persistence of nonverification and emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions.
Findings – Contrary to identity theory, we find the effect of persistent nonverification on negative emotion and behavior change is curvilinear (rather than linear). Low persistence produced the least negative emotion, but medium and high persistence produced comparably higher levels of negative emotion. For behavior change, the relationship is curvilinear and opposite what identity theory would expect: low persistence produced the greatest (rather than least) behavior change. For cognitive reactions, we find support for identity theory: persistent nonverification has a negative (linear) effect on the perceived accuracy of feedback. We conclude that while individuals accurately perceive the degree to which identity-relevant feedback is discrepant, “too much” nonverification produces excessive negative emotion and dismissal of social feedback with little behavioral modification.
Practical Implications – Program interventions based on identity theory may focus on maximizing identity verification as a means of shaping positive identities and behaviors. Our research suggests that there may be a “goldilocks zone” where small amounts of nonverification lead to more positive outcomes.
Originality/Value of the Chapter – This chapter examines persistence of identity nonverification in connection with more or less immediate cognitive and behavioral (not just affective) responses, which has not yet been done in identity theory research.
Miller, B.J. and Kalkhoff, W. (2020), "Negotiating a Nonverified Identity: Emotional, Cognitive, and Behavioral Responses", Thye, S.R. and Lawler, E.J. (Ed.) Advances in Group Processes (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 135-155. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0882-614520200000037006
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