Identity Negotiation: A Theory of Self and Social Interaction

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Book Chapter

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identity negotiation, self, self-presentation processes, social interaction, personality theory


The process of identity negotiation has several components, one of which includes those self-presentation processes people perform in the service of establishing who they are. Identity negotiation cannot be equated with self-presentation, however. Self-presentational activity represents a collection of behavioral tactics designed to achieve various interaction goals (e.g., Jones & Pittman, 1982). In contrast, the process of identity negotiation refers to a much broader set of processes through which people strike a balance between achieving their interaction goals and satisfying their identity-related goals, such as the needs for agency, communion, and psychological coherence. To this end, people generally conform to various principles of identity negotiation (discussed later in this chapter) that not only facilitate smooth interpersonal interactions but also promote intrapersonal harmony. Furthermore, the motivational forces that regulate identity negotiation processes remain operative well beyond the cessation of self-presentational activity. When, for example, people encounter identity-discrepant evaluations or are compelled to behave in identity-discrepant ways, they may "see" the experience as offering more support for their identity than it actually does. In this way, biases in people's modes of thinking can ensure the survival of identities that have been challenged. As a result, these identities may guide behavior once again.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Identity Negotiation: A Theory of Self and Social Interaction, in O. P. John, R. W. Robins & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research (3rd Ed.), Guilford Press, p. 448-471