Diluting Identity: Applying a Goal Systemic Theory of Group Identification
Kruglanski, Arie W
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A goal systemic perspective of group identification that conceptualizes groups as means to goals is proposed. Four studies investigate the effect of equifinality set size (i.e., the number of alternative means available for a given goal) on group identification. Greater equifinality set sizes are hypothesized to dilute the perceived instrumentality of a given means, which is proposed to have implications for group identification. Studies 1 and 2 found evidence that accessibility of multiple groups facilitating the same goal weakens identification with a target group. Study 3 investigated this in the context of optimal distinctiveness paradigm, finding evidence that larger equifinality set sizes dilute identification with minority but not majority groups. Study 4 illustrated that the presence of alternative means to reduce uncertainty lessens identification with extreme groups, and that this effect was mediated by perceived instrumentality. Theoretical and practical implications of the proposed framework are discussed.