A Path to Fusion? The Role of Reflective Processes in Identity Fusion.
The current study aimed to determine whether identity fusion (fusion), a form of extreme group alignment, is underpinned by processes of autobiographical reasoning about memories of events shared with the group. A secondary aim was to determine whether specific memory qualities, such as valence, moderate an expected relationship between fusion and autobiographical reasoning. Two studies were conducted of fusion with family and friends groups. In the first study, 61 participants (M age = 20) wrote memory narratives pertaining to significant experiences shared with family and friends that were coded for evidence of autobiographical reasoning. Participants also rated their fusion levels with family and friends. The findings demonstrated positive correlations between autobiographical reasoning and fusion, as hypothesised. In the second study, 81 participants (M age =20) wrote turning point narratives regarding shared experiences with family and friends and rated fusion with family and friends. Additional scale items regarding memory intensity and self-transformativeness were also included. Overall, the findings suggested again that autobiographical reasoning is positively associated with fusion. Positive memories were associated with higher levels of friend fusion, but no other effects of memory valence were found. Low-intensity memories were found to moderate the relationship between autobiographical reasoning and family fusion. Lastly, transformative shared experiences with friends mediated the path from autobiographical reasoning to fusion. These findings show preliminary evidence of a mechanism for fusion of autobiographical reasoning about shared experiences. These findings can guide future research that aims to explicate the path to fusion.
Advisor: Reese, Elaine
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Identity Fusion; Memory; Autobiographical reasoning
Research Type: Thesis