Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Jennifer K. Bosson

Keywords

Identity, Identity-based motivation, Ostracism, Social Identity Theory

Abstract

The current project investigates exclusion in terms of racial/ethnic identity and group behavioral norms. Research concerning the "black sheep effect" evidences the tendency for group members to derogate a fellow in-group member who has violated an important social norm (Marques, Yzerbyt, & Leyens, 1988). Similarly, Oyserman's (2007) model of identity-based motivation argues that any group identity can shape behavior through a process of identity infusion such that group members are motivated to behave in ways that are in-group identity-infused and equally avoid behaviors that are out-group identity-infused. Finally, identity misclassification research provides evidence that individuals feel threatened by the notion that they may have behaved in ways that are congruent with an out-group (e.g., Bosson, Prewitt-Freillino, & Taylor, 2005). Therefore, when a behavior is infused with the identity of an out-group, avoiding such behaviors is seen as an expression of belonging to one's in-group. The current project assesses the consequences of group identity-infusion specifically in the area of academics and racial/ethnic identity. In Study 1, identity-threatened participants who were excluded by an in-group member attributed their exclusion to their out-group identity-infused behavior, but they did not expect exclusion, nor experience heightened negative emotions or anxiety as a result of exclusion. In Study 2, though strongly identified participants were more likely to choose an identity-affirmed partner regardless of task condition, no differences were found for ratings of potential partners. Future research should address ecological validity issues and attempt to make more naturalistic observations of these behavioral patterns. Additionally, a younger sample should be used in order to assess exclusion for "acting White" among students who are legally required to be in school, rather than those who have chosen to pursue higher education.

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