Social Identification in Groups: Volume 22


Table of contents

(12 chapters)


Pages v-vi
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Pages ix-xi
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Several years we began a new trend in the Advances in Group Processes series. Our goal then was to publish a set of five interrelated volumes that examine core issues or fundamental themes in the group processes arena. Each volume was to be organized around a particular problem, substantive area, or topic of study, broadly defined to include a range of methodological and theoretical orientations. Volume 22 represents the fourth volume in the series, addressing fundamental issues of Social Identification in Groups.

This chapter reviews recent theoretical developments and empirical research, to examine the causes and consequences of identity processes in relation to collaboration in work groups and group performance. Our central proposition is that identification in work groups can have beneficial as well as detrimental effects, depending on the nature of the shared identity, and the content of distinctive group norms. First, we examine some of the complications stemming from the fact that identification in work settings typically involves groups that can be defined at different levels of inclusiveness and where people can be seen as having multiple cross-cutting identities. Then, we move on to show that processes of identification affect the way people view their co-workers and supervisors, causing the same objective behavior to be interpreted and responded to in a fundamentally different way. Finally, we examine how normative expectations about prototypical group behavior determine group processes and group outcomes, with the consequence that identification and commitment can affect work motivation and collective performance in different ways, depending on the content of distinctive group norms.

Identity control theory has long posited that there are positive emotional consequences to identity verification and negative emotional consequences to the lack of identity verification. While some of the positive consequences of identity verification have been discussed, little work has been done to elaborate the variety of negative emotions that result for a discrepancy between meanings held in the identity standard and meanings perceived in the situation. This paper elaborates the nature of this discrepancy and hypothesizes the variety of negative emotions that arise depending upon the source of the discrepancy, the source of the identity standard, and the relative power and status of the actor and others in the situation. In this way, the emotional consequences of identity non-verification are shown to depend upon the context of the social structure in which the non-verification occurs.

A theory of self and the identities it comprises may explain differences in academic and other cognitive performance because successful performances are associated with strong internal motivation. Identity control theory and affect control theory assume that individuals act to confirm identities, even when those actions have negative consequences. Cognitive performance, then, could be impaired if high performance is inconsistent with a salient identity. A developing theory explaining the relationship between identity maintenance and cognitive performance assumes that the effects of identity maintenance combine with other motivations to achieve. Anticipation of a performance relevant to an identity is assumed to put pressure on the identity, motivating performances consistent with it. Under some conditions identities may change to reflect different performance standards.

We present here research on the impact of three levels of social structure – large-scale, intermediate, and proximate – on commitment to three types of role-related relationships: family, work, and voluntary associational. This research is carried out using data from a sample survey of Whites, Blacks, and Latinos drawn from a five-county area of southern California. The central problem of this paper is to explicate the social structural sources of commitment to social network relationships. Our interest in this problem arises out of earlier work on Identity Theory.

This paper examines social influence in collective task settings using the Berger, Fisek, Norman and Zelditch's graph-theoretic method. The work examines in-group membership in task settings, and models contexts where both status processes and group membership are salient. At the core of these models is a theoretical concept called a group status typification state, defined as an abstract understanding that participants hold of the type of person who would be a good source of information. This paper builds upon recent theory and research and may serve as an initial step toward integration of Status Characteristics Theory and Social Identity Theory.

Despite the vast literature on the subject, theory, and empirical evidence regarding the role of collective identity for political protest remains underdeveloped. Some elements of the theory of collective identity and political protest are proposed. Key concepts such as personal and collective identity, identity salience and strength, and politicized collective identity are presented. In addition, some identity processes are conceptualized: politicization of collective identity, the causal relationship between collective identity and protest participation, and the interplay of multiple identities. Illustrative evidence from a study among farmers in Galicia (Spain) and the Netherlands, and among South African citizens is provided.

Gender constitutes one of the fundamental distinctions that organize social interaction. It is a salient social distinction in all societies, is a core personal identity for social actors, and is often used to generate expectations for competence in task-focused mixed-sex groups. In this chapter, we explore the effect of androgynous (gender ambiguous) appearance on task performance of observers. We demonstrate that it takes longer for research participants to define the gender identity of such individuals. More importantly, we hypothesize that since androgynous individuals do not fit easily into gender schemas that people use to access information about interaction partners, the presence of an androgynous-looking person will slow performance on a cognitive task. An experimental study supports both hypotheses. We conclude with suggestions about how the presence of non-stereotypical interaction partners with ambiguous identities might influence group members’ task performance, cognitive inferences about and affective responses to other group members.

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A social identity analysis, based on Hogg's (2000) uncertainty reduction theory, of the emergence and maintenance of ideological belief systems is presented. Uncertainty, particularly self-uncertainty, motivates identification with high-entitativity groups and behaviors that promote entitativity. Under more extreme uncertainty, identification is more pronounced and entitativity can be associated with orthodoxy, hierarchy and extremism, and with ideological belief systems. I develop and describe a social identity and uncertainty reduction analysis of ideology, and contextualize this in a brief discussion of the concept of ideology and in coverage of other contemporary social psychological treatments of ideology, such as social dominance theory, system justification theory, right-wing authoritarianism, belief in a just world, and the protestant work ethic.

In this chapter, we consider the fundamental importance of social identity both in terms of how people think about others and for personal well-being. The chapter reviews how social categorization and social identity impact people's responses to others and, drawing on our own work on the Common Ingroup Identity Model, examines how identity processes can be shaped to improve intergroup relations. This model describes how factors that alter the perceptions of the memberships of separate groups to conceive of themselves as members of a single, more inclusive, superordinate group can reduce intergroup bias. The present chapter focuses on four developments in the model: (1) recognizing that multiple social identities can be activated simultaneously (e.g., a dual identity); (2) acknowledging that the meaning of different identities varies for different groups (e.g., racial or ethnic groups); (3) describing how the impact of different social identities can vary as a function of social context and social and personal values; and (4) outlining how these processes can influence not only intergroup attitudes but also personal well-being, interms of both mental and physical health.

Publication date
Book series
Advances in Group Processes
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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