Experiences With Social Identity Threat: Investigating Threat’s Impact on the Self
AuthorHoushang Tehrani, Estera
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AbstractHow does social identity threat impact a person's thoughts and feelings about their self? We predicted that an identity under threat may dominate the individual’s self-concept and be viewed less positively in the moment. In two studies, we collected self-reported past experiences of social identity threat, along with ratings of the salience, positivity, centrality, and subjective concealability of participants’ multiple social identities. In Study 1 (N = 211), we found that the identity targeted by threat increased in salience, while the non-threatened identities tended to shrink away slightly. In Study 2 (N = 183), using social identity mapping methods, we did not find an increase in the threatened identity’s salience, but as in Study 1, the non-threatened identities decreased in salience during threat. Across both studies, we found a decrease in positive feelings toward the threatened social identity, which predicted a more negative emotional state during threat. Effects of identity centrality and subjective concealability were weak and inconsistent between the two studies. These results provide partial evidence that social identity threat experiences momentarily influence the cognitive and emotional components of social identity. Implications for impacts of long-term chronic exposure to social identity threat on the self are discussed.
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