How appraisals of an in-group’s collective history shape collective identity and action: Evidence in relation to African identity
Damilola Makanju (PhD student, University of Exeter, UK)
Abstract: I report ongoing research on the multi-dimensional nature of how group members appraise their collective history, and the impact of those appraisals on in-group identification and group-based action in an African context. Across three experiments (Ns = 950; 270; and 259), we tested whether (1) appraisals of African history as positive and subjectively important (vs. positive and subjectively unimportant) would predict an increase in in-group engagement; and (2) appraisals of African history as negative and subjectively unimportant (vs. negative and subjectively important) would also predict an increase in in-group engagement. Only Study 1 confirmed our predictions: when African history was appraised as unimportant, the appraised negative valence of precolonial mistakes was associated with an increase in identification and group-based action; that is, history was deployed as a contrast: something from which to break away for the better of the in-group. Conversely, when African history was appraised as important, the appraised positive valence of prestigious precolonial Africa was also associated with an increase in identification and group-based action: history as an inspiration from which to draw from for in-group improvement. Our predictions were not confirmed by the findings of Studies 2a and 2b as there were no significant differences in the combinations of appraisals of valence (positive vs. negative) x subjective importance (important vs. unimportant) of African history on how group members engage with the in-group. Altogether, our findings suggest that historical representations of African people (e.g., prestigious precolonial Africa and precolonial mistakes) can indeed boost Africans’ in-group identification and group-based action in the present, but that there may be no essential relationship between specific historical representations and in-group engagement in the present.
The seminar will take place a the center, as well as in this virtual Teams room.