Although all people belong to a multitude of different social categories and occupy various social roles, the mechanism(s) through which people manage such a complex and potentially incoherent self-concept is not well understood. We report a study showing that excitatory and inhibitory processes act in tandem to keep potentially conflicting self-categorizations from simultaneously occurring. Specifically, when members of the fraternity/sorority system activated their "Greek" identities, the mental representation of their normatively conflicting identity as university students was inhibited below baseline. Importantly, participants who were non-members of the Greek system, although equally familiar with the relevant stereotypes, did not show this pattern of inhibition, indicating that it is only when one experiences conflict between two relevant social categories that such inhibitory processes are engaged.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science