Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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The motivational implications of adolescents' school‐oriented possible identities in a social change context

Abstract

In line with the identity‐based motivation theory (Oyserman, 2015), which postulates that the motivational implications of possible identities depend on social context, the present research argues that the interplay between accessible possible identities and motivation is also influenced by adolescents' perceptions of social change. According to social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986), perceptions of social change were conceptualized as intergroup comparison outcomes, which are assumed to influence the motivational implications of possible identities under the condition that the social change process is perceived as insecure. The results of the present study, which surveyed 631 South African adolescents, supported our assumption. For instance, Black township participants' motivational implications of their possible identities were informed by their identification with Black South Africans. However, the results with regard to white suburb and Black suburb participants were rather ambiguous. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed in detail.

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