The Garden View With Michael Hogg: Uncertainty-Identity Theory and Extremism

The Garden View With Michael Hogg: Uncertainty-Identity Theory and Extremism


– If you weren’t very
sure about who you are. Right, what person you
are or who you should be in a particular context
then how would you figure out what to do? What attitudes should you express? How are they going to treat me? How should I dress? What are my expectations? So having a sense of who
you are in a particular context, that immediately prescribes to me how I should behave. So it’s not very adaptive
if you wander through life constantly unsure of who
you are or how you fit in. Uncertainty Identity
Theory, it’s a theory about what motivates people to
join groups, to identify with social categories. These can be small groups,
work groups, and so forth. Social categories can be
like a national group, a political group, an ethnic group. Really a big group and
the theory simply states that people that being a member
of these kinds of groups, belonging to these groups,
being identify with it, being recognized as a
member reduces a feeling of uncertainty about who
you are in the world. By reducing a sense of
uncertainty about who you are in the world, then you
can kind of figure out how you should behave. You can predict how other
people will treat you cause they know who you are,
they have expectations, how you should interact with
people who are like you, how you should interact with
people who are not like you. So it’s very good for society,
it’s very good for people because it allows people to belong. If you don’t belong to particular
group, then those group goals that allow human beings
to achieve the things they do like sending people to space,
cleaning up the environment, they wouldn’t exist. Alright so it’s a very, very,
very important and central to who we are to belong
to these kinds of groups. It’s bad for people in
society if this is all you do. You organize your whole
life around identifying and belonging to a particular group. No other groups, that one group. What normally happens on a
day to day basis is if you identify with a group, a
social category, your nation, your organization, you kind
of feel loyalty towards it and you feel all things being
equal, it’s a bit better than other places. I don’t think that’s a problem. That becomes a problem
when you actually hate the other group. For some reason or other it’s
not just that you are better than them but you really
despise them, they’re a real threat to you, you really hate them. So then you get the
xenophobia and extremist kinds of behaviors. So when it gets to that level then it becomes really serious. I mean typically what tends
to happen is these very strong xenophobic relations
between groups, these very extreme kinds of
views tend to be organized around ethnic national
lines, religions lines, and political lines and we have this now. It’s not just in the
United States, it’s in lots and lots of countries and I
think it’s very easy for us to sometimes think this is
a unique issue right now. I don’t think it is, I
think we’ve always had it. My research background is in what’s called social identity theories
to do with the relationship between who you are and
the groups you are in and you identify with. So it’s called the Social
Identity Lab because we look at the relationship between
you know how you define yourself and various groups
and categories you belong to but actually we look at pretty
much anything to do with interaction within groups,
influence processes within groups, and how groups
interact with other groups. More groups, large groups, and so forth. I’m really interested in
this uncertainty and group processes kind of question
so we do a fair bit on extremism in various forms. The other thing I’m fascinated
in is where do you get your extremist ideologies from or just your basic group thing. Typically it’s leaders,
alright so they can be formal leaders or informal leaders
and so we study leadership and how leaders can create
groups, frame what their like and influence people in the groups. We do research on leadership
and I guess the other third thing we’ve been
looking at quite a lot is how groups fall apart. Alright so you look at the EU. Alright so Britain just left
and a bunch of other places might want to leave so why
is it and how do groups fall apart, what causes that? All the research, all of
it is done in collaboration with my students and
then with links through to other countries. The social phycology
program here is very much on the map, globally. Not just within the U.S.
but across the world. So we bring people in
from all around the world. Some have strong connections in the University of Canton,
England and in England generally speaking. We do research on the dark triad of leadership with colleagues
in Germany and France. We do a lot of research in
Italy through colleagues at Sapienza University in
Rome and many other countries. These are all very concrete,
very real collaborative relationships that attract
research funding usually from overseas sources there’s
more money and lots and lots of publications so it’s
very good for my students. It keeps them globally
connected if they want to be in nice places like Italy. (laughter)

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