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Collective identity

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The term collective identity is a sense of belonging to a group (the collective) that is so strong that a person who identifies with the group will dedicate his or her life to the group over individual identity: he or she will defend the views of the group and assume risks for the group, sometimes as great as loss of life. The cohesiveness of the collective goes beyond community, as the collective suffers the pain of grief from the loss of a member.

Evolutionary function

Joseph Jordania suggested that in human evolutionary history collective identity was crucial for the physical survival of hominids and early humans.[1] As individual hominids were too weak and slow to survive predators on their own,[2] in the moments most critical to survival (predator attacks, combat situations, mortal danger to your children) humans enter the altered state of consciousness where they do not feel fear and pain, do not question the behavior of other members of their group, and are ready to sacrifice their lives for evolution's more important super-ordinate goals (i.e. survival of the children or the group). Humans sometimes do not have memory of these critical moments.[3] According to Jordania, human ability to follow the rhythm in big groups, to sing together in harmony, to dance for many hours and enter the ecstatic state, as well as the tradition of body painting, were all the parts of the first universal rituals. These were primarily developed as the means to synchronize each individual group-member's neural activity (through the release of neuro-chemicals), in order to reach the state of collective identity, also known as transcendence. In this state the survival needs of the group can override the instincts of individual survival.


Within the typical collective, agreement is valued over debate, creating a "comfortable cocoon" for groupthink.

See also


  1. Joseph Jordania, 2011. Why do People Sing? Music in Human Evolution,pg 98-102
  2. Joseph Jordania, 2011. Why do People Sing? Music in Human Evolution,pg 92-95
  3. Joseph Jordania, 2011. Why do People Sing? Music in Human Evolution,pg 175-177

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