Higher Identity Integration Predicts Creative Performance

Published: 2022-12-27
Higher Identity Integration Predicts Creative Performance
Type of paper:  Literature review
Categories:  Education Psychology Research
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1488 words
13 min read

1School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University; 2Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; and 3Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

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ABSTRACT-In two studies drawing from social identity theory and the creative-cognitionapproach,wefoundthat higher levels of identity integration-perceived compatibility between two social identities-predict higher levels of creative performance in tasks that draw on both identity-relevant knowledge domains. Study 1 showed that Asian Americans with higher identity integration were more creative in developing new dishes using a given set of ingredients, but only when both Asian and American ingredients were available. Study 2 showed that female engineers with higher identity integration were more creative designing a product, but only when the product was targeted to female users. These findings suggest that the psychological management of multiple social identities may be related to accessibility of multiple knowledge domains, which in turn influences creativity.

Creativity, typically defined as the ability to generate ideas that are both original and feasible, is often essential for personal and professional success. The antecedents of creative performance have long been of interest to behavioral scientists (Amabile, 1983; Paulus & Nijstad, 2003; Royce, 1898; Sternberg & Lubart, 1999). A dominant psychological approach to understanding creativity, the creative-cognition approach, suggests thataccessibilityofdifferentknowledgesystemsiscriticaltothe generationofcreativeideas(seeSmith,Ward,&Finke,1995,for a review). This view is consistent with the notion that creative performanceisaprocessofrecombiningexistingknowledgesets that initially appear unrelated or irrelevant to one another (Guilford, 1950; Koestler, 1964; Merton, 1973; Rietzschel, Nijstad, & Stroebe 2007). The underlying logic is that exposure to different sets of knowledge equips individuals with the requisite knowledge sets for certain creative tasks. But will

individuals make use of the diverse knowledge they have acquired? Imagine an Asian American chef having to create an innovative dish using Asian and American ingredients. Will he or she make use of both sets of knowledge tied to these two distinct cultural identities? We suggest that the answer to this question lies in the chef's ability to integrate the two cultural identities. Drawing on both the social identity and the creative-cognition literatures, we suggest that greater perceived integration of one's multiple social identities increases the accessibility of multiple identity-relevant knowledge domains, and that this accessibility, in turn, improves creative performance on tasks drawing on these knowledge domains.


Knowledge systems-attributes, behaviors, and information thatarecharacteristicofaspecificsocialcategory-arebundled with social identities (see Devine & Monteith, 1999, for a review). Social identities refer to aspects of the self that are based on memberships in important social groups (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Individuals may have many social identities, and depending on which social identity is being activated, different knowledge systems are made accessible for use (Fiske, 1998; Higgins, 1996). For example, when Asian Americans' Asian identity is activated (through exposure to Asian primes), they exhibit a prototypical Asian inferential behavior (i.e., making more situational than personal attributions), whereas when their American identity is activated, they exhibit the opposite behavior (i.e., making more personal than situational attributions; Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet-Marti nez, 2000). Similarly, activating gender identity among Asian women increases gender-stereotypic performance on academic tests (doing worse on math tests and better on verbal tests). However, activating Asian women's Asian identity increases culturally stereotypic performanceonthesesametests(doingworseonverbaltestsand better on math tests; Shih, Pittinsky, & Ambady, 1999). This stream of research shows that even though one might theoretically possess the expertise or know-how to solve a problem,

P S C I 2 2 2 0 B Dispatch: 24.10.08 Journal: PSCI CE: Ramya Journal Name Manuscript No. Author Received: No. of pages: 7 PE: Vinay/AswaniAddress correspondence to Chi-Ying Cheng, School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University, Level 4, 90 Stamford Rd., Singapore, 178903, Republic of Singapore, e-mail: cycheng@ smu.edu.sg.


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certainknowledgesystemsmaynotbeaccessibleatagiventime because the relevant social identity is not activated.


Although individuals belong to different social groups simultaneously,howmultiplesocial identities aremanagedisnotwell understood (Deaux, 1996). Early perspectives on this process emerged from research exploring immigrants' perceptions of their ''dominant'' and ''ethnic'' identities (e.g., Berry, 1990). Recently, Roccas and Brewer (2002) proposed four strategies individuals use to manage multiple social identities: intersection (a white Christian identifies only with other white Christians), dominance (a white Christian with a dominant religious identity identifies with other Christians), compartmentalization (a white Christian identifies with either Whites or Christians depending on the situation), and merger (a white Christian identities with both Whites and Christians). RoccasandBrewer(2002)suggestedthatthespecific strategy people employ depends in part on individual differences in the perceived compatibility between different social identities. Evidence supporting this notion indicates that bicultural individualsvaryonidentityintegration,anindividualdifference construct describing the degree to which two cultural identities are perceived as compatible with or in opposition to each other (Benet-Marti nez & Haritatos, 2005). Specifically, bicultural individuals with high identity integration perceive their two cultural identities as largely compatible and complementary, and do not find it problematic to identify with both cultural groups at the same time (an approach similar to the merger strategy). However, bicultural individuals with low identity integration feel caught between the two identities and prefer to keep them separate, believing they can identify with each cultural group at particular times or in particular contexts, but cannot identify with both cultural groups at the same time (an approach similar to the compartmentalization strategy).


We propose that individual differences in identity integration predict creative performance in specific domains. To the extent that individuals with higher levels of identity integration are better at simultaneously activating multiple social identities, theyshouldbebetterataccessingknowledgesystemsassociated with these social identities, and thus show better creative performance in tasks that require applying those knowledge systems. Thus, identity integration and type of task (single identityrelevantvs.multipleidentitiesrelevant) shouldinteract inpredictingcreativeperformance.Specifically,weproposethat individuals with high identity integration will exhibit higher levelsof creativity thanindividuals withlow identity integration in tasks relevant to both identity-related knowledge domains,

but not in tasks relevant to the knowledge domain of a single social identity.


In Study 1, we examined whether integration between two cultural identities predicts creative performance in developing new dishes. We measured Asian Americans' bicultural identity integration and then asked them to develop new dishes when both cultural identitieswererelevant(bothAsianandAmericaningredientswere available) and when only a single cultural identity was relevant (when only Asian or only American ingredients were available).


Participants Sixty-one Asian Americans were recruited through fliers and received payment for their participation (23 males, 38 females; mean age 5 24.04 years, SD 5 4.82). Forty participants were first-generation bicultural individuals who were born in East Asian countries and had lived in North America for at least 5 years. Twenty-one participants were second-generation bicultural individuals whose parents were first-generation immigrants from East Asian countries. Analyses indicated no significant differences between the first- and second-generation samples on the independent or dependent measures. Therefore, these groups were combined in the subsequent analyses.

Selecting the Ingredient Sets An independent sample of 40 Asian Americans generated a list of Asian and American cooking ingredients and then rankordered the ingredients on how often each is used in cooking typical Asian or American cuisine. Averaging across these rankings, we picked the 25 top-ranked Asian ingredients and 25 top-ranked American ingredients. Next, two Asian and two American coders rated the typicality of each ingredient for Asian or American cooking. On the basis of these ratings, we picked the 16 most typical Asian ingredients (e.g., soy sauce and wasabi) and 16 most typical American ingredients (e.g., barbecue sauce and parmesan cheese). Next, we assembled six different ingredient sets (two of each of three types), keeping the ingredients in their original jars, bottles, and boxes. One tray of ingredients contained Asian ingredients only, another contained American ingredients only, and the third contained half Asian and half American ingredients. Each set had eight ingredients, and the typicality ratings for usage in Asian or American cooking were equivalent across the sets. Additionally, salt and pepper were included in all ingredient sets.

Procedure Participants responded to four items that we used to measure identity integration, or participants' perceived compatibility

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between their two cultural identities: ''I feel 'Asian-American' (i.e., hyphenated, a mixture of the two),'' ''I keep Asian and American cultures separate'' (reverse-scored), ''I feel part of a combined culture,'' and ''I am simply an Asian who lives in North America (i.e., I am an Asian who happens to live in the U.S.)'' (reverse-scored). Participants rated each item on a scale from 1 (completely disagree) to 5 (completely agree). These four itemsweredrawnfromtheBiculturalIdentityIntegrationScale- Version 1 (BIIS-1; Benet-Marti nez & Haritatos, 2005; Cheng, Lee,&Benet-Marti nez,2006).Theirinternalreliabilitywas.70. We averaged responses to the four items to form an identityintegration score, with higher scores indicating higher identity integration.Thedistributionofthesescoreswasbimodal,andwe used the scale's midpoint (3) to divide the sample into two groups: 47 individuals with high identity integration (M 5 3.84, SD 5 0.60) and 14 individuals with low identity integration (M 5 2.20, SD 5 0.33).1 Participants also rated how strongly theyidentifiedwithAsianandAmericanidentities,usingascale from 1 (not at all) to 6 (very strong). Next, participants were instructed to develop creative dishes (dishesthatwouldbe''new,delicious,andpopularwithpotential customers'') for a new restaurant that would be opened nearby. Participants performed two tasks...

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