chapter  11
20 Pages

Revisiting the Individual Self: Toward a Social Psychological Theory of the Individual Self and the Collective Self

The introduction of the collective self as the complement to the individual self was certainly an important step toward a better understanding of group processes. However, while the collective self has moved up to a more prominent position on social psychologists' research agenda, it appears that the individual self simply has been taken for granted (Turner & Onorato, 1999). This asymmetry is not too surprising since the collective self traditionally has been held responsible for more spectacular and typically undesirable social phenomena such as prejudice, intergroup stereotyping and discrimination, or even intergroup hositility and violence, whereas the individual self generally has appeared more benign in its consequences. Surely, such a differential association of the individual self and the collective self with more benign or more malign social consequences, respectively, was not intended by self-categorization theory (Turner et aI., 1987, pp. 65-66), nor has it been supported empirically (Hornstein, 1972; Simon, Stiirmer, & Steffens, 2000). Nevertheless, the relative neglect of the individual self by group researchers has led to an imbalance in the literature on group processes in that it has had little to say about the individual self in general and its interplay with the collective self in particular.