Identity as a factor that reinforces the personality. Identity is one of the main factors for forming a person’s personality since it has a lot to do with their environment, culture, and family. Personal identity and one, or several, social ones. Our personal identity relates directly to our personality: we can be more outgoing, kind, less neurotic, etc.
In short, our personal identity is going to be made up of different features that define us. On the other hand, social identities correspond to the groups to which we belong. For example, family, country, religion, ethnicity, sports team, etc. These identities have norms, values, and roles.
But how do we behave? Taking care of our personality traits or the norms of our group? It is understood that it will depend on which identity is activated. Normally, it will be our personal identity, so we will behave according to our personality. But sometimes the group is more important, and we will behave according to the role we have in the group and its norms. For example, when our group feels threatened.
Identity as a factor that reinforces the personality: What is identity?
In psychology, the concept of personal identity refers to the meaning we give to our own unique being, different from others and continuous in time. It is the mental script that each person makes of the values and behaviors that our culture has transmitted to us, integrating them according to our individual characteristics and our social experience. That is, the idea we have of our individuality and of our belonging to certain groups.
The function of identity is to maintain our psychic balance through two actions:
1) Give us positive feedback on ourselves.
2) Adapt ourselves to the environment in which we live.
The first function seeks to come to feel like a valuable person with the ability to act in the face of different events and elements. The second function allows us to change certain features of our identity to integrate ourselves into a new environment.
The formation of an individual’s identity depends on the culture and the historical period in which it lives. The environment in which it is born transmits values and a way of acting and thinking; for example, the caste system in India considers that the contact of the Brahmins (the priestly caste) with members of lower castes contaminates them.
Identity relates to different cultural currents and is limited by these: nationality, religion, sex, language, race or ethnicity, etc.
A political refugee changes some features of their identity but without losing their sense of continuity about themself: they add to their traditional identity both the culture of the host country and the definition of an immigrant.
They strive to recognize their way of integrating the different lived cultures, often unknown to others. They persistently negotiate their identity to overcome the tension created by the different cultural codes and discover their place in that society.
Identity as a factor that reinforces the personality: Integration issues
The relationship between the personal and social identity that we have explained generates some problems:
1. Motivation is what initiates our behaviors
On the one hand, if the motivation comes from our “personal self,” the behavior will attend to our personality. While if the motivation comes from our “social self,” the behavior will be determined by the norms and roles of the group.
2. Members of a group define themselves based on their social identity
Therefore, the members of the group are considered to be interchangeable. For example, in many groups, a person occupies the role of funny. As a member of the group, it does not matter if it is that person or another. The important thing is that someone, regardless of who it is, occupies the role of the funny one.
3. The changes will make us more or less identify
For example, if our sports team wins an important competition, our social identity (with that team) will be very strong. However, as the days go by, that identity will get weaker.
Identity as a factor that reinforces the personality: The fusion
The relationship between both types of identity has limitations that cannot find explanation without resorting to another identity. This is the fusion of identity that is defined as a visceral feeling of unity with a group. In people with fused identity, the union with the group is so strong that the boundaries between personal and social identity become very porous.
What does it mean? That even if one identity activates, it can affect the other. For example, questioning our personality will lead people who merge their identity to defend their group.
This new relationship between the two identities leads to forming a strong sense of connection with the group. Which encourages the merged people to do what they would do for themselves for the group. But, personal relationships with group members are also strengthened.
Principles of identity fusion
The main characteristics or principles of identity fusion are four:
1. The first principle is that of personal agency. It proposes that the actions of the merged persons reflect both their personal and social identity. Here, the group members would not be substitutable because both their personality and their role within the group have value.
2. The second principle is that of identity synergy. This principle suggests that personal and social identity can combine, giving rise to a high motivation to do things for the benefit of the group. These people will be the first to collaborate, and any compliment will make them collaborate more personally and individually.
3. The third principle is that of relational ties. According to this principle, fused people, who have very strong personal and social identities, think that the other members of their group have them too. Likewise, they will value the group members for their personality and social identity, so they will create very strong relationships.
4. Finally, we find the principle of irrevocability. According to irrevocability, identity fusion is to be maintained regardless of context. Also, even though we have multiple social identities, fusion only occurs with one group. This exclusivity makes them refrain from developing strong identities with other groups, and the fusion is maintained.
Now that you know how important identity can be for the formation and development of each person’s personality, you can take charge of discovering what your identity is and developing your personality in the best way.
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