Association with and Dissociation from Groups in Response to Personal and Social Identity Threats: The Role of Self-Construal and Anxiety

Drążkowski Dariusz1 , * Open Modal Authors Info & Affiliations
The Open Psychology Journal 30 Sept 2022 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/18743501-v15-e2208151



In response to an identity threat, some individuals may dissociate themselves from social groups, whereas others may associate with these groups.


This study examined how threats to social and personal identity influence the processes of association/dissociation with in-groups and out-groups in individuals with different self-construal types. Further, it explored whether the associative/dissociative processes are linked with physiological anxiety aroused by the identity threat.


A total of 204 women were randomly assigned to one of six conditions: identity threat (social vs. personal vs. no threat) and primed self-construal (independent vs. interdependent).

Results and Discussion:

Under identity threat, independent women may dissociate from their out-group, which is manifested in lower ratings for masculine consumer brands. In contrast, interdependent women may associate with their in-group as well as the out-group, which is manifested as higher ratings for feminine and masculine brands, respectively. These findings provide evidence that the response to an identity threat depends not on the type of identity threat but rather on the type of self-construal. The results showed an unexpected possibility of association with the out-group when faced with an identity threat. However, physiological arousal did not mediate these effects, suggesting that associative/dissociative processes are a product of the maintenance of a positive self-concept rather than psycho-physiological efforts to regulate arousal.


This work contributes to the existing literature on the impact of personal and social identity threats on in-group and out-group association/dissociation, evaluated using brand ratings representing these groups. The results also have several practical implications for marketers.

Keywords: Social and personal identity threat, Self-construal, Anxiety, Association, Dissociation, Consumer brands.
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