When Catholic and Polish Identity Goals Meet: Goal Overlap via a Sense of Belonging

Hanna Spychalska-Waszek, Sadia Zaman, Johannes T. Doerflinger, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Katarzyna Byrka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People often strive to simultaneously attain their religious and national identity goals. The degree to which these goals are associated is referred to as identity goal overlap. In the present research, the overlap between the two identity goals of being a Catholic and being a Pole was assessed via the sense of belonging to the Catholic or Polish community and varied by the exposure to unifinality (i.e., a set of activities serving only one identity goal) versus multifinality (i.e., a set of activities serving the two identity goals). In Studies 1 and 2 (N = 220 and N = 252), participants read scenarios in which the protagonist, while celebrating Christmas Eve (Study 1) or Easter Sunday breakfast (Study 2), either performed religious Catholic and/or traditionally Polish behaviors. Participants’ overlap was measured before and after reading scenarios. The same pattern of results in both studies was observed: an increase in the identity goal overlap in the multifinal condition and a drop in the overlap in the unifinal national condition; the effects were stronger for Christmas than for Easter. Study 3 (N = 222) suggests that this difference is likely due to the fact that Christmas more than Easter is activating social motives. These findings indicate that identity goal overlap is malleable by subtle manipulations of the situational context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Catholic identity goal
  • identity goal overlap
  • multifinality
  • national identity goal
  • unifinality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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