Using a person-situation perspective, we explain what happens to individuals' identification with a collective in the context of a change. We propose that given the anxiety that often emerges during change, individuals' personal values (conservation and openness to change) interact with type of change (imposed vs. voluntary) in predicting identification following change. In a pilot, longitudinal field study (N=61, 67% female) of an imposed university campus relocation, we measured employees' values and identification with the university before and several months after the relocation. In two lab experiments (Study 1: N=104, 91.3% female; Study 2: N=113, 75.2% female), we manipulated a change to be either imposed or voluntary and compared the relationships between values and identification across types of change. In Study 2, we also measured anxiety from the change. When change was imposed (all three studies), but not when voluntary (Studies 1 and 2), individuals' conservation was positively, and openness negatively, related to individuals' post-change identification. The effects emerged only for individuals who experienced change-related anxiety (Study 2). Our findings demonstrate that individuals' identification with a changing collective depends on the amount of anxiety change elicits and on the particular combination of their values and type of change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology