Identification During Imposed Change: The Roles of Personal Values, Type of Change, and Anxiety


  • This research was partially funded by a scholarship granted to the first author by The Open University of Israel Research Fund. We thank Nerina Jimmieson, Sharon Arieli, and Lilach Sagiv for their very helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.


Using a person-situation perspective, we explain what happens to individuals' identification with a collective in the context of a change. We propose that given the anxiety that often emerges during change, individuals' personal values (conservation and openness to change) interact with type of change (imposed vs. voluntary) in predicting identification following change. In a pilot, longitudinal field study (N = 61, 67% female) of an imposed university campus relocation, we measured employees' values and identification with the university before and several months after the relocation. In two lab experiments (Study 1: N = 104, 91.3% female; Study 2: N = 113, 75.2% female), we manipulated a change to be either imposed or voluntary and compared the relationships between values and identification across types of change. In Study 2, we also measured anxiety from the change. When change was imposed (all three studies), but not when voluntary (Studies 1 and 2), individuals' conservation was positively, and openness negatively, related to individuals' post-change identification. The effects emerged only for individuals who experienced change-related anxiety (Study 2). Our findings demonstrate that individuals' identification with a changing collective depends on the amount of anxiety change elicits and on the particular combination of their values and type of change.