Research Topic

Multiple Identities Management: Effects on (of) Identification, Attitudes, Behaviour and Well-being

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Individuals belong to a variety of social categories which may differ considerably in the way they are acquired (e.g., inherited at birth or achieved throughout life), in their relative stability or malleability, and in the value they assign to the individual (e.g., low vs. high social status). Inherited and ...

Individuals belong to a variety of social categories which may differ considerably in the way they are acquired (e.g., inherited at birth or achieved throughout life), in their relative stability or malleability, and in the value they assign to the individual (e.g., low vs. high social status). Inherited and achieved identities often tend to agree in their value and content over time, but not always. Inherited identities (e.g., gender, ethnicity, castes), and in some cases achieved ones (e.g., through migration or unemployment), cannot be voluntarily dismissed, so that individuals must cope with their simultaneous presence. The co-presence of social identities can produce conflict in status and value, and therefore create distressing situations in which the individual is urged to actively cope in order to engage in consistent behaviour and promote identity fit. However, there is also evidence that belonging to multiple social groups may provide a pathway to gaining social support and positively influence individuals' well-being.

Coping strategies may be of different kinds. Individuals may attempt to discard one of the identities, use in turn one or the other, integrate or fuse multiple identities, in order to react to specific social contexts. Identities may also change or be newly developed in particular contexts (e.g., politicised, opinion-based, or solidarity-based groups). The type of strategy is also likely to have an impact on well-being, as it may reduce dissonance and distress. Research shows that upward and downward social mobility may create changes in attitudes and support for an individual’s low-status ingroup. Moreover, situational conditions such as threat to a social identity, as well as the type of integration culture may moderate such effects.

Overall, a host of research has focused on perceptions of individuals with multiple identities, and on individuals with intersecting devalued identities. The aim of this Research Topic is to enlarge this growing body of research by focusing on how people negotiate conflicting identities and the consequences. We are interested in the moderating role of social status, political diversity climate, and different cultures on the ways individuals handle their conflicting identities.

Submissions may treat multiple identities of any type (e.g., gender, ethnicity, sexuality, social class, professional, or immigrant status, etc.) which are opposed in social value. They may concern upward (e.g., immigrant managers) or downward (e.g., rich who becomes refugee) moves but also other identity dynamics (e.g., development of new identities, politization, contrasting traditional identities). Investigations of psychological constructs such as social identification, identity fusion, attitudes, collective (social) action, behaviour, or well-being are welcome.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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