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Fitting in and Standing Out: Shifting Mindsets from Taking to Giving

Adam Grant

April 10, 2013

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"When people think like takers, they focus on getting as much as possible from others. When they operate like givers, on the other hand, their overarching emphasis is on contributing their knowledge and skills to benefit others. ... Identification is a powerful driver of contributions. People act like givers rather than takers when they've internalized a group as part of their self-concepts or identities. To catalyze this shift in mindsets, we need to understand what causes people to identify with a group. A fascinating insight comes from research by the eminent psychologist Marilynn Brewer, who observes that when we interact with other people, we face a tension between two competing motivations: fitting in and standing out. On the one hand, we want to belong—to experience similarity with others. On the other hand, we want to feel unique—to differentiate ourselves from others."

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