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Using Collective Identities for Assimilation and Differentiation

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Abstract

Humans are driven by a variety of needs, motives, and goals. Dating back to the early part of the twentieth century, researchers have attempted to understand human behavior by linking behavior to underlying motiva-tions(e.g., Hull, 1943; Spence, 1956). In line with this tradition of exam-ining human behavior within the framework of individual goals and motivations, researchers studying group behavior and intergroup relations from a social identity perspective (e.g., Tajfel & Thrner, 1979, 1986) recognized that multiple motives may operate in a group context. Behavior is driven not only by realistic concerns (e.g., conflicts over resources), but also by individuals' desire for positive social identity. In answer to the question of why individuals identify with groups (particularly minimal groups that appear to hold little significance for group members), Thrner (1975) argued that "subjects will identify with a social category to the extent that such identification enables them to achieve value significance, to the extent that it is the category most relevant to the "desire for positive self-evaluation" (pp. 19-20). Thus, the social identity approach to inter-group relations has always incorporated the concept of needs and motives for understanding intergroup behavior. However, what has been missing to some extent from earlier formulations of social identity theory (SIT: Tajfel & Thrner, 1979, 1986; Turner, 1975) and self-categorization theory (SCT: Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987) is an integration of the variety of individual needs (beyond positive distinctiveness) that might come into play within group contexts and how these needs might interact with cognitive and structural variables to produce particular patterns of intragroup and intergroup behavior. The goal of the current chapter is to address the issue of how individual needs and motives influence identification processes and group behavior Assimilation and Differentiation 57 by focusing on two particular needs -the need for assimilation and the need for differentiation -that have comprised the bulk of our research in this area. We will begin by describing research suggesting that these needs represent core human motivations. We then tum to the subject of how these needs can be satisfied within groups and the implications that these needs have for understanding social identity and group processes. In reviewing our work in this area, we hope to convey that the complexity of intragroup and intergroup behavior requires an understanding of both the external factors (e.g., group status, group size) present in a given context and the internal factors (e.g., personal appraisals, needs, personality) that can vary widely among individuals within that context. Assimilation and differentiation as fundamental human needs
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... Equilibrium is achieved through identification with social groups at that level of inclusiveness where the degree of satisfaction of the need for assimilation and the need for differentiation is optimal. From this, the prediction follows that identification should be highest with groups that allow for simultaneous satisfaction of both assimilation and differentiation needs (Pickett & Leonardelli, 2006). ...
... Even though ODT would not deny that other dynamics may affect the way needs are being satisfied, one would predict from this perspective that the search for optimal distinctiveness would remain an important predictor of group identification when the identity is threatened (Pickett & Leonardelli, 2006). Indeed, ODT researchers have argued that the motivation to satisfy assimilation and differentiation needs can be a more important determinant of identification than concerns to maintain a positive social identity . ...
... Indeed, ODT researchers have argued that the motivation to satisfy assimilation and differentiation needs can be a more important determinant of identification than concerns to maintain a positive social identity . Pickett and Leonardelli (2006) summarise the difference of ODT from SIT and SCT as: 'ODT differs from SCT in (1) its heavy emphasis on need satisfaction as a key determinant of social categorization, and (2) its attempt to explain variation in identification with those categories as a function of the desire to reconcile countervailing needs for assimilation and differentiation' (p. 61). ...
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Three studies were conducted to examine the predictions that (a) in-group identification depends on optimal distinctiveness needs (Study 1), and (b) that social identity threat overrides the predictive value of these needs to determine identification (Studies 2 and 3). In Study 1, need for assimilation and need for differentiation were assessed among natural groups. We found support for the optimal distinctiveness theory (ODT) prediction that there is a curvilinear relationship between identification and optimal distinctiveness needs satisfaction. In Studies 2 and 3, interactive effects of the extent to which groups satisfy assimilation and differentiation needs (groups are either too small, of moderate size, or too large) and social identity threat were examined. In the no identity threat condition identification was higher in moderately sized groups (where both needs are balances) compared to groups were either assimilation or differentiation dominates. However, when facing an identity threat, identification was highest in very small groups, providing evidence that social identity concerns override individual need satisfaction. Discussion focuses on comparing and integrating ODT and social identity theory.
... From the perspective of ODT, a social identity of this kind fulfills the need for distinctiveness in addition to the need for inclusion. Thus, such a valued group membership may be more likely to be affirmed and defended through expressions of in-group loyalty and favoritism (Brewer, 1991;Leonardelli et al., 2010;Pickett & Leonardelli, 2006). ...
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Three studies assessed the association between in-group favoritism and subjective belonging. Study 1 revealed that after New Zealanders allocated more positive resources to in-group than out-group members (i.e., Asians), they reported higher levels of belonging. Study 2 showed that when New Zealanders evaluated in-group members more positively than out-group members, they reported an increase in belonging. Study 3 examined the link between belonging and the allocation of negative resources (i.e., white noise) to in-group and out-group members amongst accepted, rejected and baseline participants. Group members who allocated more white noise to out-group than in-group members displayed elevated belonging. Relative to those in the baseline, accepted and rejected participants manifested pronounced patterns of in-group favoritism. Together, the results indicate that (a) different forms of in-group favoritism (i.e., evaluations and the allocation of positive and negative resources) are directly associated with enhanced belonging, (b) both high and low belonging can promote ingroup favoritism, and (c) these relationships are not a function of personal esteem, group esteem or group identification.
... Research stemming from the social identity theory has comprehensively shown that ethnic identity becomes salient for minority members when interacting with the majority group (Smith & Leach, 2004;Waters, 1990). Therefore, the strong ethnic identity among Slovenes may reflect a tendency to stress their distinctiveness from the majority outgroup, and to maintain a clear sense of self within an inclusive group of moderate size and a positive self-view (Branscombe, Schmitt, & Harvey, 1999;Leonardelli & Brewer, 2001;Pickett & Leonardelli, 2006), as well as being a counter-reaction to perceived marginalization, discrimination and hostility (Leach, Rodriguez Mosquera, Vliek, & Hirt, 2010;. Interestingly, the Slovene ethnic identity did not contribute to well-being as much as the Italian national identity. ...
... Research stemming from the social identity theory has comprehensively shown that ethnic identity becomes salient for minority members when interacting with the majority group (Smith & Leach, 2004;Waters, 1990). Therefore, the strong ethnic identity among Slovenes may reflect a tendency to stress their distinctiveness from the majority outgroup, and to maintain a clear sense of self within an inclusive group of moderate size and a positive self-view (Branscombe, Schmitt, & Harvey, 1999;Leonardelli & Brewer, 2001;Pickett & Leonardelli, 2006), as well as being a counter-reaction to perceived marginalization, discrimination and hostility (Leach, Rodriguez Mosquera, Vliek, & Hirt, 2010;Verkuyten & Nekuee, 1999). Interestingly, the Slovene ethnic identity did not contribute to well-being as much as the Italian national identity. ...
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Background We examined core assets of collective identity for enhanced psychological well-being among hardly investigated Slovene ethnic minority and Italian majority youth in Italy. The Slovene minority is an autochthonous minority living in Italy since the 6th century. Participants and procedure We tested a model based on the notion that collective identity derives from familial, ethnic and religious identities as important sources of identification for youth in line with prior work on the salience and relations among these sources. Participants were 114 Slovene and 144 Italian adolescents (aged 14 to 18 years old) living in the North-East of Italy. They filled in standardized measures on ethnic, national, familial and religious identity, the Satisfaction with Life Scale and the Positive Affective Schedule. Results Path models showed that stronger collective identity was related to higher scores of perceived psychological well-being. Interestingly, for the Slovene minority youth, ethnic Slovenian identity was unrelated to collective identity. Overall, among all youth, all identity components loaded into a single factor of collective identity, confirming previous studies with bicultural minority youth. Conclusions The findings shed light on the path linking multiple aspects of collective identities together to adolescents’ well-being and are useful in pragmatic terms for improving and facilitating assets of individual and social/collective well-being and functioning of youth.
... Research stemming from the social identity theory has comprehensively shown that ethnic identity becomes salient for minority members when interacting with the majority group (Smith & Leach, 2004;Waters, 1990). Therefore, the strong ethnic identity among Slovenes may reflect a tendency to stress their distinctiveness from the majority outgroup, and to maintain a clear sense of self within an inclusive group of moderate size and a positive self-view (Branscombe, Schmitt, & Harvey, 1999;Leonardelli & Brewer, 2001;Pickett & Leonardelli, 2006), as well as being a counter-reaction to perceived marginalization, discrimination and hostility (Leach, Rodriguez Mosquera, Vliek, & Hirt, 2010;. Interestingly, the Slovene ethnic identity did not contribute to well-being as much as the Italian national identity. ...
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... Se infatti assimilazione e differenzazione rimangono bisogni umani fondamentali (Pickett, Leonardelli 2006), persino in una società che tende ad offrire relazioni sempre più frammentate e basate su posizioni individualistiche, tali processi acquistano significato attraverso la selezione e costruzione delle identità sociali sulla base delle norme e delle peculiarità del gruppo (Postmes, Jetten 2006). Di conseguenza, il gruppo sarà interpretato dai suoi membri come un nuovo soggetto a cui sentono di appartenere più o meno totalmente, diventando il tramite della soddisfazione dei loro bisogni e desideri paralleli e interconnessi. ...
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The analysis of the concept of identity becomes significantly more complicated as regards both the global and multicultural contemporary society and collective subjects, the boundaries of which are not clear. Therefore, denotation and empirical gathering appear to be complex and require careful reflection before the field research is carried out, opening up epistemological and theoretical questions and considerations.
... • Majority minority discrimination or how to reduce intergroup conflict and discrimination: Some social psychologists tried to confirm predictions derived from Brewer's (1991) optimal distinctiveness and people's need for assimilation/differentiation theory (Pickett and Leonardelli, 2006). This was followed, at the University of Toronto (Canada), by the study of negational identity relative to affirmational identity (Zhong, Phillips and Leonardelli, 2008). ...
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