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Title:Early conceptions of national identity: causes and consequences
Author(s):Hussak, Larisa
Director of Research:Cimpian, Andrei
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baillargeon, Renee
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cohen, Dov; Fisher, Cynthia; Stern, Chadly
Department / Program:Psychology
Discipline:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):national identity
social cognition
psychological essentialism
intergroup attitudes
Abstract:National identity is a powerful category marker that has been found to influence people’s perceptions and judgments of social others. While one’s nationality is technically defined by circumstantial factors (e.g., birthplace, residence), as opposed to inherent or biological features, adults still describe their national identity as being extremely important to their personal identity (ANES, 2004), and strong national identification has profound—and often pernicious—consequences for how one views national outgroups (e.g., Huynh, Devos, & Altman, 2015). Here, I explore the origins of national identity conceptions; specifically, I ask whether young children (beginning at age 5) are aware of the extrinsic determinants of nationality, or whether their conceptions are more biologically-based, as is their reasoning about other influential social categories (e.g., gender; Rhodes & Gelman, 2009). I tested the prediction that at the age when children first become aware of their national identity as a category marker, they will hold an essentialist conception of nationality, believing that it is a biologically-based, stable, and inherent feature of their selves. However, as they age, this tendency will decline, and they will instead attribute nationality to more environmentally-determined factors (Studies 1-3). Further, I investigated the consequences of an early essentialist conception of national identity, and specifically the role that essentialism plays in predicting outgroup-denigrating beliefs and behaviors (Studies 3 & 4). In uncovering the early manifestations and consequences of national identity beliefs, the present research presents an important first look at the development of children’s understanding of nation-state membership, and the lasting impact it may have on their interactions with the world.
Issue Date:2017-04-19
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/97700
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Larisa Hussak
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05


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