Identity and Intergroup Leadership: Asymmetrical Political and National Identification in Response to Uncertainty

Student Co-author

CGU Graduate

Document Type



Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)

Publication Date



Organization Development | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Based on research showing that feelings of self-uncertainty increase group identification, we explored the idea that leader-induced uncertainty might under some conditions also strengthen identification. Given that most leadership situations involve leading diverse subgroups, the effectiveness of leader-induced uncertainty to increase identification would likely be influenced by the extent to which members viewed the superordinate group as reflecting their own subgroup's attributes, as well as the extent to which the superordinate group leader was considered prototypical of their subgroup. Students (N = 125) indicated their party affiliation (Democrat vs. Republican) and political ideology (liberal vs. conservative), and read a speech by the current US President, George W. Bush, in which they were instructed to focus on aspects of the speech that made them feel uncertain or feel certain. Dependent measures were strength of national (American) identification and strength of identification with their political party (Democratic or Republican). As predicted, we found that uncertainty strengthened party identification among all participants, and weakened national identification among Democrats. Uncertainty did not affect national identification among Republicans, quite probably because as a group they already identified very strongly with nation. Implications for the strategic use of uncertainty by intergroup leaders to strengthen identification and leader endorsement are discussed.

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© 2010 Taylor and Francis