Collective Self-Concept Clarity: How We Understand Ourselves Through Our Group Memberships


The groups that we identify with help to make us who we are. This dissertation investigates the impact of the way that each of us understands those identities, through the newly introduced construct of collective self-concept clarity (Gardner & Garr-Schultz, 2017). Two aspects of collective self-concept clarity are introduced and the implications of each are explored for understanding well-being and group dynamics. I begin with a set of four studies examining the extent to which people clearly understand the norms, values and prescribed behaviors of a single group identity and how this impacts individual well-being (Studies 1a, 1b, 2) and intragroup dynamics (Study 3). A second set of studies moves beyond the clarity of a single group membership to examine how people view all of their group identities in relation to one another to establish a coherent sense of self. Four studies explore the consequences of this collective coherence for individual well-being (Studies 4, 5a, 5b) and intergroup dynamics (Study 6). This work contributes to the social psychological literature on self and identity and extends our thinking about self-concept clarity to the collective level. We aim to center the experiences of individuals who identify with multiple groups and empirically explore the ways in which people’s understanding of their own group memberships affects their lived experiences.

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