Sweating the big stuff: Arousal and stress as functions of self-uncertainty and identification


Groups serve a variety of crucial functions, one of which is the provision of an identity and belief system that impart self-referent information, thereby reducing self-uncertainty. Entitative groups are more attractive for highly uncertain participants seeking groups for identification and self-uncertainty reduction than less entitative groups. The purpose of the current study was to explore how self-uncertainty impacts physiological arousal and stress responses. Using a mixed-methods design (N = 123), we found that self-uncertainty increased physiological arousal (measured via skin-conductance level) and stress responses (measured via heart rate). Furthermore, we found that uncertainty-activated physiological arousal and stress responses were decreased through identification with a high entitativity group. Our findings expand upon uncertainty identity theory by identifying physiological mechanisms that motivate uncertainty reduction.


© 2021 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.


Heart Rate (HR), Identification, Piecewise Multilevel Growth Curve Modeling, Skin Conductance Level (SCL), Self-Uncertainty


Brown, JK, Hohman, ZP, Niedbala, EM, Stinnett, AJ. Sweating the big stuff: Arousal and stress as functions of self-uncertainty and identification. Psychophysiology. 2021; 58:e13836. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13836