See Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer: Social Identity and Identity Threat Shape the Representation of Physical Distance

Y. Jenny Xiao, Jay J. van Bavel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Three studies demonstrated that collective identity and identity threat shape representations of the physical world. In Study 1, New York Yankees fans estimated Fenway Park, the stadium of a threatening out-group (but not Camden Yards, the stadium of a neutral out-group) to be closer than did non-Yankees fans. In Study 2, the authors manipulated identity threat among people affiliated (or not) with New York University (NYU). When Columbia University was portrayed as threatening to NYU, NYU affiliates estimated Columbia as closer than did non-affiliates, compared with when Columbia was nonthreatening. In Study 3, Americans who perceived more symbolic threats from Mexican immigration estimated Mexico City as closer. Collective identification with the in-group moderated effects of threat on distance estimations. These studies suggest that social categorization, collective identification, and identity threat work in concert to shape the representations of the physical world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-972
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume38
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2012

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Social Identification
Emigration and Immigration
Mexico

Keywords

  • distance
  • perception
  • social categorization
  • social identity
  • threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "Three studies demonstrated that collective identity and identity threat shape representations of the physical world. In Study 1, New York Yankees fans estimated Fenway Park, the stadium of a threatening out-group (but not Camden Yards, the stadium of a neutral out-group) to be closer than did non-Yankees fans. In Study 2, the authors manipulated identity threat among people affiliated (or not) with New York University (NYU). When Columbia University was portrayed as threatening to NYU, NYU affiliates estimated Columbia as closer than did non-affiliates, compared with when Columbia was nonthreatening. In Study 3, Americans who perceived more symbolic threats from Mexican immigration estimated Mexico City as closer. Collective identification with the in-group moderated effects of threat on distance estimations. These studies suggest that social categorization, collective identification, and identity threat work in concert to shape the representations of the physical world.",
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