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Group Identification as a Mediator between Salient Group and Inspiration
    Daniel P Chadborn     Texas A & M University - Commerce
    Stephen M Reysen    

Individuals are inspired by things in their environment (other people, current technology and literature, music, etc.) and inspired to engage in activities through this (to write, create, engage in some meaningful way with the world around them). In previous research examining the functions of fan communities, a common response to the purpose the fan interest or fandom has for individuals was as a source of inspiration to create and produce new works. While research regarding social identity has examined the influence of group membership on creativity, there has been no examination of inspiration and how individuals are inspired by the groups and interests they identify with. The purpose of the present research was to expand our understanding of the sources of inspiration, specifically examining how the groups we belong to and identify with may increase the frequency and intensity of inspiration. We hypothesized that (1) certain groups may offer more inspiration than others (i.e., identifying as an American is more inspiring than identifying as a university student) and (2) this inspiration is mediated by the strength of identification an individual has with their salient group.

Participants (N = 183) students solicited through introductory psychology courses. Participants were randomly assigned to think of themselves as Americans or as university students in order to make the identities salient. The participants then answered questions concerning identification with the group and the frequency and intensity of inspiration from their salient group, as well as a series of demographic answers. Those students who were not natural born American citizens were removed from the final data.

To examine the differences between salient identities, we conducted a MANOVA with salient identity (American vs. university student) as the independent variable and identification and inspiration as dependent variables. The results indicated that participants thinking of themselves as Americans (vs. university students) reported greater identification and inspiration. Furthermore, identification with the ingroup mediated the association between salient identity and inspiration.

The results of the present research suggest that individuals can feel different levels of inspiration based on membership in groups. Furthermore, the degree of psychological connection with the group (i.e., ingroup identification) is a strong predictor of the degree of inspiration experienced by group members and acts as a mediator between ingroup salience and inspiration. This research offers some insight into the sources of inspiration in individuals’ lives. Future research may offer greater insight into how individuals draw on groups to motivate action.

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