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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Psychology Research Units Social Psychology

Reconciling individuality with social solidarity: Forming social identity from the bottom up

Social Psychology

During the last decades, Western societies have become increasingly individualistic. Many people fear that this gain in individual freedom threatens solidarity in society. The individual and the collective are assumed to be in opposition. But is this assumption always correct? Or is it possible to form groups in which individual distinctiveness and group membership can come into agreement? We propose that individual group members can actively contribute to the formation of shared group identity—a bottom-up (inductive) process that involves each group member as an individual. While being a distinctive individual can be difficult when group identity is formed on the basis of commonalities (a mechanical or deductive process) as might be the case in the army or the police, my dissertation shows that individuality can be reconciled more easily with strong social solidarity when group identity is formed inductively (or organically) out of individuals’ contributions.

Researchers and partners

Behavioural and Social Sciences, Psychology
Partners outside of the University of Groningen
  • Karen van der Zee Free University of Amsterdam


  • Jans, L., Leach, C. W., Garcia, R., & Postmes, T. (2015). The Development of Group Influence on In-Group Identification: A Multi-Level Approach. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. doi: 10.1177/1368430214540757
  • Jans, L., Postmes, T., & Van der Zee, K. I. (2012). Sharing differences: The inductive route to social identity formation. Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology. 48(5), 1145-1149. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.04.013.
  • Jans, L., Postmes, T., & Van der Zee, K. I. (2011). The Induction of a shared identity: The positive role of individual distinctiveness for groups. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 37, 1130-1141. doi: 10.1177/0146167211407342.

University's focus areas

  • Sustainable Society
Last modified:29 March 2021 10.17 a.m.
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