Every person has a sense of who they are, of their self, which evolves over time. You may feel like an athlete or musician now, but this will change depending on your engagement with that identity.
For Telfer professor Keri Kettle, a consumer identity expert, the way people express their identities affects which ones become more, or less important to them.
To study this in greater depth, Kettle has received an SMRG grant for a project titled “‘I am’ versus ‘I do’: How Expressing an Identity as ‘Being’ versus ‘Doing’ Affects Your Sense of Self and Identity-Linked Behaviour.” Kettle will examine how using “being” identity-expression (versus “doing” expression) can make an identity more central to one’s sense of self, and also strengthen connections with other identities. The research will use online and field experiments.
How we express our identities can have major effects on our everyday behaviour, from exercise to shopping and spending.
Kettle’s research could make an important contribution to the literature on identity by examining how using different words to express one’s identity leads to identity reinforcement versus dilution, and how this, in turn, affects other identities within one’s self-concept.