Conceptions of the Human Self and Human Rights: Implications for the Psychological Continuity of Less Inclusive Selves
I n this chapter we examine the psychology of individual and collective self con-tinuity via consideration of research on self-definition as a human being. Such a maximally inclusive human level of self-definition can be contrasted with self-definition in terms of a less-inclusive subgroup self or the even less-inclusive individual self. Self-definition as a human is more inclusive than a subgroup self, for it involves the assertion of self-identity as a member of the human race rather than as a member of a less inclusive category that excludes other subgroups. From our perspective, a subgroup self is a self-definition that results from social comparison in an intergroup context; for example, identifying as a woman in contrast to man. Gender-based self-definition is therefore less inclusive than categorization at the human level, for it excludes or differentiates between subgroup categories. Self-definition at the individual level, in effect, excludes other members of one’s subgroup and results from intragroup social comparison. We therefore define less inclusive selves to be individual or subgroup selves, either of which can be contrasted with the self category human. Although these three levels of self-definition were posited in self-categorization theory (Turner, 1985; Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Richer, & Wetherell, 1987) as functionally antagonistic-salience of one level of self makes self-definition at other levels less likely-the potential relationships among these levels of self have received relatively little research attention.