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Group identity as a source of threat and means of compensation: Establishing personal control through group identification and ideology

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


Compensatory control theory proposes that individuals can assuage threatened personal control by endorsing external systems or agents that provide a sense that the world is meaningfully ordered. Recent research drawing on this perspective finds that one means by which individuals can compensate for a loss of control is adherence to ideological beliefs about the social world. This prior work, however, has largely neglected the role of social groups in defining either the nature of control threat or the means by which individuals compensate for these threats. In four experiments (N = 466) we test the possibility that group‐based threats to personal control can be effectively managed by defensively identifying with the threatened group and its values. We provide evidence for the specificity of these effects by demonstrating that defensive identification and ideology endorsement are specific to the content of the group‐based threat.