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Beliefs in national continuity are related to essentialist thinking and to perceptions of the nation as a family

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Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


["Nations and Nationalism, Volume 26, Issue 4, Page 845-863, October 2020. ", "\nAbstract\nNational narratives serve to foster a sense of collective continuity—the perception that the nation has preserved its traits, values and goals across many generations. The present study explores some of the correlates of such perceptions of collective continuity (PCC). We predicted that people who see their nation as more continuous would tend to think about social groups in more strongly essentialist terms and to feel personally attached to other group members (a phenomenon known as identity fusion). An international sample of 307 respondents (predominantly from the United States and India) completed measures of PCC, social essentialism, identity fusion and national identification. Both hypotheses were supported at the level of the level of the full sample, suggesting that perceived national continuity is related to a general cognitive predisposition for essentialist thinking and also to one's sense of personal attachment to the nation. However, exploratory analyses by nationality revealed that the results could not be replicated with the Indian participants, potentially as a result of cultural factors. Identity fusion was also more strongly correlated to cultural/essentialist continuity than to historical continuity. Interpretations and directions for future research are discussed.\n"]