The study then focuses on the identity with its definition and how society itself fosters identity in individuals. It next utilises the research of Taylor and Brown (1988) to show how positive illusions can not only boost self-enhancement but also, at right levels, enhance societal objectives too. This is the crux of the study and it goes on to utilise the research of Van Vugt et al to show how self-enhancement motives can be made to dovetail with altruistic motives. The study concludes on the note that a society which generates the minimum amount of cognitive dissonance in individuals in the apparently conflicting aspects of self-enhancement and altruism by showing that both are compatible to a great degree will be successful in survival.
Though there seems to be an apparent conflicting role of emotions in promoting personal welfare compared to social welfare Nathaniel Branden, psychotherapist, author and consultant says - "There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity" (Politics of self-esteem). The study begins on this positive note. The statement is true where the self-esteem is balanced and rational, as will be found later. Also, self-esteem is a major part of the positive illusions of Taylor and Brown (1988) that they assert are both normal and adaptive. Self-esteem also is dependent upon an active positive affect (Gibbons, 1986) (Sources derived from: Gramzow, Richard H., et al, 2002).
On the other hand, the altruistic side, van Vugt and Snyder (2001) present a quite optimistic picture of human co-operation based on individual and social motivation and social identity. This issue should be looked at through the particular angle of personal safety that often is dependent upon social security. This is presented by the researchers in the specific forms of collective health scares or environmental crisis, both of which threaten the individual personally but can only be mitigated collectively through dependent social mediums (van Vugt & Snyder, 2001). Though this may seem rather cynical on the surface it is quite optimistic as self-esteem itself provisions society which itself can thrive only through individual well-being. This singularity in well-being of the self is often realised by individuals who then become willing to forsake a part of their individual benefits in favour of societal well-being at large.
The study shall now look into each side of the issue separately.
Cognitive dissonance is a term introduced by Leon Festinger. In 1967 experimental psychologists like Timothy Brock and Joe Balloun showed that subjects created a sort of barrier between themselves and cognitive inputs that were hostile to their own previous beliefs and actions (Negotiating Cognitive Dissonance). Thus, individuals do not induct wholly those inputs that are inconsistent with their own previously held mnemonic schema. These are