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Science. 2012 May 18;336(6083):848-52. doi: 10.1126/science.1220987.

The group self.

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  • 1Institute for Psychological Research, Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Leiden University, Post Office Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, Netherlands.


Although people often tend to consider themselves and others as unique individuals, there are many situations in which they think, feel, and act primarily as group members. This can bring out the best in them, as when they are inspired to help fellow citizens in need, or the worst, as when they show hostility against others simply because they represent another religious or ethnic group. Understanding when and why the group self becomes more important than the individual self, and how this affects people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, can help to prevent and redirect unwelcome aspects of human behavior by addressing them at the appropriate level of self.

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