The distinctiveness principle: identity, meaning, and the bounds of cultural relativity

Vivian L. Vignoles, Xenia Chryssochoou, Glynis M. Breakwell

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199 Citations (Scopus)


Extending theories of distinctiveness motivation in identity (Breakwell, 1987; Brewer, 1991; Snyder & Fromkin, 1980), we discuss the precise role of distinctiveness in identity processes and the cross-cultural generality of the distinctiveness principle. We argue that (a) within Western cultures, distinctiveness is necessaryfor the construction of meaning within identity, and (b) the distinctiveness principle is not incompatible with non-Western cultural systems. We propose a distinction among three sources of distinctiveness: position, difference, and separateness, with different implications for identity and behavior. These sources coexist within cultures, on both individual and group levels of selfrepresentation, but they may be emphasized differently according to culture and context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-354
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000

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