Motivated self-stereotyping: heightened assimilation and differentiation needs result in increased levels of positive and negative self-stereotyping

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Apr;82(4):543-62.


This research was conducted to explore the impact of assimilation and differentiation needs on content-specific self-stereotyping. According to optimal distinctiveness theory (M. B. Brewer, 1991), social identities serve the function of satisfying individuals' need for assimilation (in-group inclusion) and their need for differentiation (distinctiveness from others). It was proposed that one of the ways optimal social identities are maintained is through self-stereotyping. In 3 studies, the needs for assimilation and differentiation were experimentally manipulated, and support was found for increased self-stereotyping in response to heightened need arousal across both self-report and behavioral measures and across different social groups. Results also demonstrated that only those participants who were highly identified with their in-group were willing to engage in negative self-stereotyping.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychological Distance*
  • Self Concept*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Identification*
  • Stereotyping*