Shared Negative Experiences Lead to Identity Fusion via Personal Reflection

Jonathan Jong, H. Whitehouse, C. Kavanagh, J. Lane

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    36 Citations (Scopus)
    9 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Across three studies, we examined the role of shared negative experiences in the formation of strong social bonds—identity fusion—previously associated with individuals' willingness to self-sacrifice for the sake of their groups. Studies 1 and 2 were correlational studies conducted on two different populations. In Study 1, we found that the extent to which Northern Irish Republicans and Unionists experienced shared negative experiences was associated with levels of identity fusion, and that this relationship was mediated by their reflection on these experiences. In Study 2, we replicated this finding among Bostonians, looking at their experiences of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. These correlational studies provide initial evidence for the plausibility of our causal model; however, an experiment was required for a more direct test. Thus, in Study 3, we experimentally manipulated the salience of the Boston Marathon Bombings, and found that this increased state levels of identity fusion among those who experienced it negatively. Taken together, these three studies provide evidence that shared negative experience leads to identity fusion, and that this process involves personal reflection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0145611
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume10
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2015

    Bibliographical note

    The full text is also available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0145611
    This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

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