Individual Self-Regulatory Functions: It's Not "We" Regulation, but It's Still Social
Elaborating on the optimal distinctiveness theory (ODT) of social identity, this chapter explains a fundamental tension between needs for assimilation and differentiation of the self from others at each level of self-representation. It discusses the extension of the optimal distinctiveness model in three levels of self representation: individual, relational, and collective self. Optimal distinctiveness theory postulates that collective social identities derive from the interplay of two opposing social motives. The point of optimal distinctiveness lies with relatively large and inclusive social identities, and the need for inclusion is chronically activated at any points below the optimum level. Socialization into groups with particular norms and expectations influences individual values; once incorporated, values influence the types of groups the individual seeks to identify with and the intensity and exclusivity of group identification. The importance of the collective self is particularly evident when efforts to achieve or restore optimal group identities involve some cost to personal self-interest.