Why Is Identity so Important?

Having a sense of identity is important because it allows people to stand out as individuals, develop a sense of well-being and importance, and fit in with certain groups and cultures. Many cultures and societies place great value and significance on certain items, which hold symbolic meaning and gain respect from citizens. National flags, for instance, have distinct colors and patterns, and symbolize past achievements intimately familiar to citizens.

Humans express a sense of identity through verbal and nonverbal means, including language, clothing and social status. Some historians believe that animals also have senses of identity. Identity has a strong biological origin and plays an important role in helping animals survive. Animals vulnerable to predators identify with other like animals in a group or herd. This identity affords animals protection from group members, and allows them to form relationships and breed with like animals. Although some identity has biological origins, identity also exists as a learned behavior. People living in tribes, for instance, learn the specific clothing styles and even normal behaviors of those tribes as they grow up. Identity exists in many forms, and ranges from small traits to powerful behaviors. Posture, hair style and type of clothing classify as forms of identity to help people develop an attachment to like-minded individuals. Certain thoughts and beliefs, such as religious values, classify as broader-reaching actions surrounding sense of identity. Identity includes historical characteristics as well as novel trends.