Identity merging is a type of identity that connects other types of identities. To better understand this, think thatwe all have at least two identities. A personal identity and one, or more, social.Our personal identity is directly related to our personality. We can be more extroverted, friendlier, less neurotic, etc.
Our personal identity will ultimately be composed of different traits that define us. Social identities, on the other hand, correspond to the groups to which we belong. For example, family, country, religion, ethnicity, sports team, etc. These identities have norms, values and roles.
But,how do we behave? In accordance with the traits of our personality or the standards of our group? This will depend on the identity that will be activated. This will normally be our personal identity. So wewe will behave according to our personality. But the group is sometimes more important, so we will behave according to the role we have in it, and its rules. For example, when our group feels threatened.
Identity integration issues
The relationship between personal identity and social identity, which we explained earlier, poses certain problems:
- Our behavior is initiated by motivation. Behavior will take into account our personality if the motivation comes from our "personal self". On the other hand, the behavior will be determined by the rules and roles of the group if the motivation comes from our "social self".
- The members of a group are defined according to their social identity.The members of the group are therefore considered interchangeable. For example, one person plays the role of comic in many groups. It does not matter who it is. The important thing is that someone, no matter who, plays the role of comic.
- The degree to which we identify with the group will depend on the context. The changes will make us identify more or less. For example, if our sports team wins a major competition, our social identity (with this team) will be very strong. This identity will become weaker as the days go by.
The fusion of identity
The relationship between the two types of identity has limits that can not be explained without resorting to another identity. It isidentity fusion. It is defined as a visceral feeling of unity with a group. The union with the group is so strong among people with a merged identity that the boundaries between personal identity and social identity become very permeable. What does that mean ? That even if one of the identities is activated, it can affect the other. For example, the questioning of our personality will lead people who merge their identity to defend their group.
This new relationship between the two identities leads to a strong sense of connection with the group.This encourages the motivation of the merging people to do for the group the same thing they would do for themselves. The personal relationships with the members of the group are thereby strengthened.
The principles of identity fusion
The main features or principles of identity fusion are:
- The first principle is that of the personal agency. He proposes that the actions of the merged people reflect both their personal and social identity. In this case, the members of the group would not be substitutable because their personality and their role within the group are valued.
- The second principle is that of identity synergy.This principle suggests that personal and social identity can be combined, giving rise to strong motivation to do things for the benefit of the group. These people will be the first to collaborate and any flattery will encourage them to collaborate more personally and in a group.
- The third principle is that of relational links.According to this principle, the merged persons, who have very strong personal and social identities, think that the other members of their group also possess them. They will also value the members of the group for their personality and their social identity. This will create very strong relationships.
- Finally, we find the principle of irrevocability.According to irrevocability, the identity merger will remain independent of the context. The links we have formed with the other members of the group reinforce the feeling of fusion. Make it permanent. Merge occurs only with one group even though we have multiple social identities. This exclusivity means that people refrain from developing strong identities with other groups, so the merger is maintained.
To conclude.Relationships between personal identity and social identity are usually exclusive. One or the other is activated. Cidentities are confused in some people,so that they feed themselves by making these people do more things for the group. Behaviors will therefore depend to a large extent on whether our identity is merged or not.