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Optimal distinctiveness, values, and uncertainty orientation: Individual differences on perceptions of self and group identity

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The present study investigated whether predictions made by optimal distinctiveness theory (Brewer, 1991) could be moderated by individual differences in uncertainty orientation, and whether optimal distinctiveness has implications for how people perceive their values relative to comparison groups. It was hypothesized that certainty-oriented persons, compared to uncertainty-oriented ones, should place greater importance on and see themselves as more similar in values to relevant comparison groups, when the need for assimilation is aroused but not necessarily when the need for differentiation is activated. One hundred five men and women, pre-assessed for their level of uncertainty orientation, were asked to describe two situations where they felt too immersed in or too apart from others around them. They then rated the importance of several reference groups and the importance of 10 value types for the self, their ethnic group, and other students at their university. The results supported the hypotheses.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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