Jolien van Breen: "The path of most Resistance: How groups cope with implicit social identity threat"

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Jolien van Breen: "The path of most Resistance: How groups cope with implicit social identity threat"

On June 19, 2017 Jolien van Breen successfully defended the PhD thesis entitled "The path of most Resistance: How groups cope with implicit social identity threat" at University of Groningen.

Promotor
Prof. dr. Russell Spears

Co-promotors
Dr. Toon Kuppens
Dr. Soledad de Lemus


Summary

The central purpose of this dissertation was to study whether members of disadvantaged social groups are able to resist implicit threats to their social identity. During the last decades it has become increasingly clear that many social processes have important implicit components (Bargh et al., 2001; Blair, 2002; Devine, 1989). Nevertheless, only recently have theorists begun to study whether and how existing theories of intergroup relations might be extended to the implicit level (Lemus et al., 2013; Kray et al., 2001; Ramos et al., 2015). Of central importance to this dissertation is the fact that, until recently, it seemed that when threats to social identity occur implicitly, members of disadvantaged groups were unable to resist. In fact, previous research showed that, as threatening cues become more subtle, members of disadvantaged groups are increasingly like to accept and conform to such cues (Barreto et al., 2010; Kray et al., 2001).
Conversely, the work that makes up this dissertation shows, across 5 empirical chapters, that resistance to implicit forms of identity threat is possible, and can take a variety of different forms. For instance, exposure to implicit in-group stereotypes can trigger counter-stereotypical behaviour (Chapter 3), implicit in-group bias (Chapters 3 and 5) and out-group derogation (Chapters 3 and 4). As such, this dissertation forms an important step in the application of Social Identity Theory to the implicit realm. Moreover, by showing that members of socially disadvantaged groups can resist implicit identity threat, this dissertation underscores that members of disadvantaged groups are more resilient than previously thought.


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