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The dark and bright sides of disidentification: Antecedents and consequences

Working groupKnowledge Construction
FundingLeibniz-WissenschaftsCampus Tübingen
Project description

In this project we investigated how a negative, self-defining relationship to a relevant group, a so-called "disidentification", develops, and what consequences disidentification has for information searching behavior, information preference and the development within the group.


Individual information behavior is shaped by information environments, which undergo a change upon individual status transitions, as university freshmen, for instance. In this project we investigated specifically negative developments between an individual and a group by investigating antecedents and consequences of disidentification. Disidentification is the active distancing of a relevant group that affects self-description, emotion and behavior. Disidentified group members describe themselves contrary to the typical group member, feel bad when they meet other group members and act contrary to the interests of the group. In lab and field experiments we demonstrated that the incompatibility between established and new group memberships may increase disidentification with the new group. Another risk factor of disidentification is the perceived assignment to a group where group members perceive differences between themselves and the group.


The disidentification with a group has serious consequences for both individuals within the group and the group itself: It was demonstrated that disidentified group members avoid information from ingroup members and have a preference for negative ingroup information. Moreover, they display anti-normative behavior and have a higher risk of group dropout. Moreover, they prefer derogating information about low status outgroups. In addition, it was demonstrated in lab studies that disidentified group members withhold important information from their group, while sharing useless information in order to keep up appearances. Thus, disidentification is a risk factor for the successful integration into the group as well as for the group itself. The investigation of disidentification contributes to a better understanding of negative intragroup processes.


Prof. Dr. Steffen Hillmert

Prof. Dr. Martin Groß

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schmitt-Hertha


Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus Tübingen


Matschke, C., de Vreeze, J., & Cress, U. (2023). Social identities and the achievement gap: Incompatibility between social class background and student identity increases student disidentification, which decreases performance and leads to higher dropout rates. British Journal of Social Psychology, 62(1), 161-180. Open Access

de Vreeze, J., & Matschke, C. (2019). Don’t put me in this group: Assignment to non-preferred groups increases disidentification and a preference for negative ingroup information. Social Psychology, 50(2), 80-93.

de Vreeze, J., Matschke, C., & Cress, U. (2018). Neither fish nor fowl: A perceived mismatch in norms and values between oneself, other students, and people back home undermines adaptation to university. British Journal of Social Psychology, 57, 684-702.

de Vreeze, J., & Matschke, C. (2017). Keeping up appearances: Strategic information exchange by disidentified group members. PLOS ONE, 12(4): e0175155. Open Access


Dr. Christina Matschke Dr. Christina Matschke
Tel.: +49 7071 979-201

Project team

Dr. Jort de Vreeze