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Optimal Distinctiveness Theory

Optimal distinctiveness theory is a social psychological theory proposing that individuals identify with groups or identities that allow them to satisfy two needs at the same time: the need for assimilation and the need for differentiation. The need for assimilation involves the need to belong or to feel similar to others, while the need for differentiation comprises the need to feel different from others. These two needs are thought to operate as opposing forces such that the more one need is satisfied, the more there is a desire to satisfy the other need. Optimal distinctiveness theory posits that individuals define themselves in terms of groups or identities that allow them to achieve an optimal balance of the need for assimilation and the need for differentiation. ...

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