Social Identity Theory Essay

1107 words - 5 pages

This essay will be looking to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the social identity theory with studies to support.

The Social Identity theory (SIT) was proposed by Henry Tajfel. It was then later developed by Tajfel and Turner in 1971 to help them understand inter group relations. The Social Identity theory assumes that individuals strive to improve their self-image by trying to enhance their self-esteem, through social (in and out groups) and personal identities. There are 4 main concepts within the social identity theory all of which will be discussed in the essay.

One of these is Social categorization. Based on the name it is very self explanatory, with the social ...view middle of the document...

Need for positive distinctiveness --> Social comparison --> Positive self-concept 


Cialdini et al. (1976) 
The aim of this study was To investigate the tendency to associate one’s self publicly with successful others, referred to as “basking in reflected glory” (BIRG). 

Method A: Fans from large U.S. prestigious football universities were participants in a field experiment (in large lecture halls across 7 different schools) where they observed student clothing/apparel on a Monday following a big football game. 

Results A: Students tended to wear more apparel associating themselves with their own university (e.g. jersey or sweatshirt) when the football team won compared to when they lost. 

Method B: Based on these findings, researchers decided to call students and interview them about the performance of their schools football team following a game. 

Results B: 
People tended to use the pronoun "we" more to describe their team when they won and "they" more when the team had lost. The researchers were able to show that people tend to associate with positive others most closely when their own public image is threatened. 

Conclusion: The study Demonstrated that people seek a positive social identity and that their social identity is affected by being a part of their group so that you are more positive towards anything that your own group represents. 

The self-image of individuals was affected by their in-group in that the victory gave a sense of "positive- distinctiveness" for the group and therefore enhanced self-esteem. This supports the Social learning theory.

Intergroup behaviors

The Social identity is used to explain social phenomena in terms of intergroup behaviors such as Ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism happens when positive behaviors are attributed to depositional factors (because we are the best). Ethnocentrism is also when negative behaviors are attributed with situational factors (we lost because of the rain). Ingroup favoritism is when the the in group is favored compared to out groups. ( Our team won the most rounds during the spelling bee that means we are better). Intergroup differentiation is when emphasis is put on the differences between in and out groups. Stereotypical thinking is when Ingroup and outgroup members are perceived according to certain stereotypes. Conformity to group norms is when we Behave in accordance to standards of behaviour defined by the ingroup


Tajfel (1970) – The minimal group paradigm...

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