Advances in Group Processes: Volume 37

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Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Purpose – Are members of socially dominant groups aware of the privileges they enjoy? We address this question by applying the notion of hypocognition to social privilege. Hypocognition is defined as lacking a rich cognitive or linguistic representation (i.e., a schema) of a concept in question. By social privilege, we refer to advantages that members of dominant social groups enjoy because of their group membership. We argue that such group members are hypocognitive of the privilege they enjoy. They have little cognitive representation of it. As a consequence, their social advantage is invisible to them.

Approach – We provide a narrative review of recent empirical work demonstrating and explaining this lack of expertise and knowledge in socially dominant groups (e.g., White People, men) about discrimination and disadvantage encountered by other groups (e.g., Black People, Asian Americans, women), relative what members of those other groups know.

Findings – This lack of expertise or knowledge is revealed by classic cognitive psychological measures. Relative to members of other groups, social dominant group members generate fewer examples of discrimination that other groups confront, remember fewer instances after being presented a list of them, and are slower to respond when classifying whether these examples are discriminatory.

Social Implications – These classic measures of cognitive expertise about social privilege predict social attitude differences between social groups, specifically whether people perceive the existence of social privilege as well as believe discrimination still exists in contemporary society. Hypocognition of social privilege also carries implications for informal interventions (e.g., acting “colorblind”) that are popularly discussed.


Purpose – We outline how research on groups in disrupted environments can advance research on group processes.

Design/Methodology/Approach – We review studies of groups in disrupted environments, drawing mostly on military research to generate understanding of intra- and intergroup dynamics. We also identify new technologies and methods to improve measurement and modeling of groups.

Findings – When consolidated, the research documenting challenges groups operating in disrupted environments face suggests the importance of considering them as a unique set of circumstances for groups. It also identifies methods for objectively measuring and modeling groups in these environments.

Practical Implications – This chapter will help practitioners determine factors pertinent to groups working in disrupted environments, identify group processes that generate success and those that undermine group effectiveness, and point to emerging technologies to better measure and model group processes in disrupted environments.

Social Implications – Group processes affect both individuals and societies. In the context of the disrupted environments, group performance translates to enormous consequences for individuals, as well as national security and humanitarian implications.

Originality/Value of the Chapter – This chapter uniquely consolidates the vast amount of research on groups operating in disrupted environments and also is innovative in emphasizing the disrupted context as a generalizable situation that elucidates key dimensions of group processes and performance in disrupted environments.


Purpose – In this chapter, we outline early sociological thinking on time rooted in various philosophies of time and review the relatively current research in the area of temporal perspective. Next, we define the scope of the social psychology of time and illustrate how and why social psychology has failed to properly and effectively include time as a central component of study. Finally, we link current thinking about time to group processes research, most directly to identity and social identity processes (though not exclusively), making clear the ways current and future approaches could benefit from including temporal perspectives.

Methodology – We review relevant research engaged with concepts related to time in psychology, sociology, and social psychology. On the foundation of our review and the identification of gaps in the literature, we provide insights and recommendations regarding how temporal perspectives may be adopted by existing knowledge bases in sociological social psychology.

Findings – As a conceptual chapter, this work presents no empirical findings. A review of the literature reveals a scarcity of research effectively embedding temporal perspectives in major areas of social psychological research.

Practical Implications – The recommendations we make for connecting temporal perspectives to existing research areas provide a practical foundation from which to develop new ideas.

Social Implications – This work contributes to the social psychology of time by detailing how time is an important, yet mostly overlooked, component to our understandings of many social psychological processes. In the effort to extend identity and social identity theory in specific, we add to the general knowledge of the self and self-processes via the incorporation of temporal perspectives.

Originality – This work is the first to explore how temporal perspectives in sociological social psychology are employed, but mostly, how they are underutilized. We make recommendations for how novel theoretical predictions may emerge by including perspectives about time in existing research programs.


Purpose – In recent decades, some sociologists have turned to evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and cognitive science to support, modify, and reconfigure existing social psychological theory. In this chapter, we build on this momentum by considering the relevance of current work in affective and cognitive neuroscience for understanding emotions and the self. Our principal aim is to enlarge the range of phenomena currently considered by sociologists who study emotion while showing how affective dynamics play an important role across most outcomes and processes of interest to social scientists.

Approach – We focus on the ways external social objects become essential to, and emotionally significant for, the self. To that end, we draw on ideas from phenomenology, pragmatism, classic symbolic interactionism, and dramaturgy. We show how basic affective systems graft on, build from, and extend current social psychological usages of emotions as well as the important sociological work being done on self, from both symbolic interactionist (SI) and identity theory (IT) perspectives. Finally, we turn to the promising directions in studying emotional biographies and various aspects related to embodiment.

Findings – Affective systems consist of brain networks whose connections deepen when activated, with interesting variations observable at the neural, individual, and social levels in which one or more system is more salient than others. Affective systems may come to saturate the construction and maintenance of an autobiography or collective biography, with consequences for self-projection, self-other attunement, and embodied action. In turning to embodiment, however, we consider aspects of cognitive neuroscience that can contribute to ongoing work in neurosociology building on symbolic interactionism.

Practical Implications – The focus on affective systems suggests new research agendas in leveraging emerging neurosociological methods in the laboratory, while pushing for novel, naturalistic observational strategies. The latter, in particular, may be key to deepening sociology's contributions to neuroscience, better positioned to bring the full disciplinary toolkit to bear on these questions.

Social Implications – In considering the embodied and projective aspects of the self, we show how work examining convergence and divergence between embodied and linguistic pathways opens up new insights into how the self develops or acquires behavioral repertoires. As such, this chapter points to the need for holistic approach to understanding the social actor and, thereby, how political, economic, historical, and cultural factors shape self as much as biogenetic and psychological.

Originality of the Chapter – Sociologists think of emotions as either dependent or intervening variables: (1) signaling identity or situational incongruence, (2) states to be managed, and (3) structural dimensions of superordinate–subordinate relationships. Our integration of the theory of affective systems emphasizes the causal primacy emotions have over other behavioral and cognitive functions, clarifying how they play into the construction and maintenance of self and social experience.


Purpose – We delineate how the concept of reputation has been used in different literatures. We develop some formal definitions of observers and reputation that bring together the different literatures. We then ask how noncooperative or “bad” reputations might be repaired. Based on the developed definitions and past research, we suggest some possibilities for reconciliation. We also work on developing an experimental paradigm to investigate reputation.

Methodological/Approach – We review research from different disciplines, develop definitions, and design an experiment.

Findings – We suggest that, under certain conditions, group reconciliation can occur. However, these conditions are quite specific.

Practical Implications – When the goal is to solve a social dilemma, reconciliation is an important part of the process. Without reconciliation, group integration is problematic.

Social Implications – Reconciliation can be a powerful process that encourages cooperation. We suggest some ways that reconciliation might be possible.

Originality/Value of the Chapter – This chapter suggests a new formalization to connect different conceptualizations of reputations.


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.


Purpose – Stryker's identity theory has impacted sociological social psychology for a half century and still inspires an active research agenda. To date, however, its terms and arguments have not been analyzed closely. Our purpose with this project was to conduct such an analysis.

Design/Methodology/Approach – We provide a detailed rationale for our analytic method that entails an objective examination of a theory's clarity, parsimony, precision, and other essential scientific qualities. It is applied using procedures that, among other functions, check terms for clarity and consistency of usage, and ensure that key arguments are logically valid.

Findings – The analysis revealed significant gaps and ambiguities in the core theory. We offered a series of recommendations designed to supply missing logical elements, clarify definitions, and streamline the terminological system. We sought to remain true to the original theory's purposes while further strengthening its coherence, transparency, and overall utility.

Practical Implications – Kurt Lewin's famous maxim applies well here: “Nothing is so practical as a good theory.” To the extent that a body of research is claimed to be theory-driven, gaps and ambiguities throw into question the results of empirical tests and applications that ostensibly are backed by the theory. Without theoretical support, findings are neither meaningful nor generalizable.

Social Implications – A logically sound and semantically transparent identity theory will have the greatest chance for making real differences in society via practical applications.

Originality/Value of the Chapter – We offer a straightforward method to ensure meaningfulness and integrity in social science theories. Such analyses are rare, but we hope that their utility for theory-driven research programs such as identity theory's is evident.


In this chapter, we advance an understanding of identity theory (IT) as originally created by Sheldon Stryker and developed over the past 50 years. We address misunderstandings of IT concepts and connections. We provide definitions of key ideas in IT, propositions that identify important relationships, and scope conditions that outline the circumstances to which IT applies. Our goal is to provide scholars with an accurate view of IT so that it can continue to advance the science of human behavior in sociology and beyond.


Stets, Burke, Serpe, and Stryker's (SBS&S's) comment in this volume argued that Markovsky and Frederick's (M&F's) analysis and reconstruction of identity theory (IT) was superfluous and flawed. It was superfluous, they contended, because we did not understand the full theory whose components are scattered across hundreds of publications throughout 50 years. That made our point for us: The kind of analysis for which we advocated would, at minimum, gather up all the essential pieces and check their internal consistency, clarity, and integrity. To support their claim that our analysis was flawed, Stets et al. offered their own interpretations of the IT literature to correct alleged errors in M&F's interpretations. This also served to reinforce one of our main points: IT's terms and propositions are so open to interpretation as to permit mutually contradictory implications. The theory needs the kind of analysis and provisional disambiguations that we attempted to provide.

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Advances in Group Processes
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