Group Identities

Sonia Roccas and Andrey Elster

in The Oxford Handbook of Intergroup Conflict

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747672
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Group Identities

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We review a large body of research showing the negative impact of group identification on intergroup relations: people who strongly identify with their group tend to endorse more strongly aggressive policies, are less critical of the ingroup's wrongdoings, and are less responsive to interventions designed to reduce conflict. Despite its robustness, the link between identification and intergroup conflict is not indissoluble. We focus on three factors that mitigate it. First, awareness of one's multiple identities mitigates reactions to intergroup conflicts. Second, there are different ways to express one's identification with a group, some of which have the potential to encourage group members to act in ways that reduce intergroup conflict. Finally, the content of national and ethnic identities has profound impact on the way people react to intergroup conflict. We review studies on the content of identities focusing on aspects that may escalate or mitigate conflict.

Keywords: Social identity; intergroup conflict; nationalism; patriotism; multiple identities; collective victimhood

Article.  13032 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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