What makes a group worth dying for?

Monday, December 05, 2016

William B. Swann

Professor of Psychology
University of Texas

The willingness of people to sacrifice their lives for their group has defied explanation for centuries. I suggest that identity fusion–a visceral sense of “oneness” with a group–may help understand such phenomena. In contrast to past approaches to group behavior, the identity fusion formulation emphasizes the role of the personal self and intragroup relationships in extreme pro-group action. Feelings of personal agency, perceptions of family-like ties to other group members, and a sense of group-related invulnerability mediate the link between identity fusion and pro-group behaviors.


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