Beliefs in national continuity are related to essentialist thinking and to perceptions of the nation as a family

Metodi Siromahov, Michael Buhrmester, Ryan McKay

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National narratives serve to foster a sense of collective continuity — the perception that the nation has preserved its traits, values, and goals across many generations. The present study explores some of the correlates of such perceptions of collective continuity (PCC) with regards to national identity. We predicted that people who see their own nation as temporally continuous would tend to think about social groups in more strongly essentialist terms, and to feel immersed in the group identity and personally attached to other group members (a phenomenon known as identity fusion). An international sample of 307 respondents (predominantly from the US and India) were asked to complete measures of PCC, social essentialism, identity fusion, and national identification. Both hypotheses were supported at the level of the level of the full sample, suggesting that perceived national continuity is related to a general cognitive predisposition for essentialist thinking, and also to the strength of emotional attachment to the nation. However, post-hoc analyses by nationality revealed that the results could not be replicated with the Indian participants in the sample, potentially as a result of cultural differences. Exploratory analyses also revealed that the cultural component of PCC is more strongly related with identity fusion, while the historical component is more strongly related with national identification. Interpretations and directions for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalNations and Nationalism
Early online date30 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jun 2020

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