Group identity versus Relational Identity: The influence of Identity Primes on Socio-political Attitudes
AdvisorHardy, Bruce W.
Committee memberHolbert, Lance
DepartmentMedia & Communication
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/4776
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AbstractWhile numerous studies have examined the role of group identity, particularly partisan identity, in influencing individuals’ socio-political attitudes and policy preferences, the impact of relational identity — individuals’ self-concept rooted in interpersonal relationships, roles, and responsibilities — is rarely examined. This dissertation outlines the different effects of group identity and relational identity on message processing and attitude change in socio-political contexts. This dissertation first draws on the social identity approach and motivated reasoning to understand how categorizing oneself in terms of group membership contributes to group polarization. Next, building on Brewer and Gardner’s (1996) notion of a relational self and interpersonal relationship literature, this dissertation examines the influence of relational identity on attitudes toward socio-political issues. Additionally, this dissertation offers a relational identity-based strategic communication solution that could potentially mitigate polarization resulting from group identity. Three online survey experiments were conducted in three different contexts, including immigration, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These three studies primed different group identities (e.g., partisan identity and national identity) and relational identities (e.g., being a friend and being a parent) and then presented issue-specific factual information. Results suggest that individuals’ partisan identities bias a broad range of judgments and lead to polarization over politicized issues, even when presented with factual information. However, linking a controversial socio-political issue and an issue-relevant relational identity has the potential to mitigate polarization resulting from group identity such as partisanship.
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