It has been almost a year since writing about the flock model for groups. I used the example of different types of birds to explain how some social groups are more heterogeneous than others. The two fundamental dimensions have to do with similarity and difference. Almost a year later I cam across optimal distinctiveness theory.
Since this blog is almost entirely un-researched it came as a nice validation to see the theory so clearly matched in the literature. There is are a couple of differences though from my limited reading of the theory. I frame the need for difference almost entirely based upon the need for status. Also, I take some issue with the idea of calling anything “optimal”. Rather, it is more fun to look at different groups where the sameness and difference are tuned in different ways – or to look at how the same groups change these parameters over time.
In many cases individuals with try to “tune” the dimensions of sameness or difference. For example in a group of girls that are very athletic – one who feels like they cannot compete on athleticism might try to show off how smart she is (choose your own adjectives).