The Social Identity Theory

2375 Words 10 Pages
Social Identity Theory In life we are categorized into many groups (whether it be based on our skin color, our culture, our type of music, the way we dress, and everything else about our lives) we cannot escape from it. We all put people into categories to help us simplify the information about people and be able to associate that information with people who would usually fit into that group, which now would even be called stereotyping. Both stereotyping and categorization are parts of a bigger picture that has the name of the Social Identity Theory. Many people have done experiments with how people are put into groups with the usage of media, music, and how they perceive other races. We are in groups to try to boost our self-esteem, be a …show more content…
Tajfel (1979) states that due to reduced capacities in processing information we define categories and schemes to encode and decode messages. So if we see someone who dresses in a certain fashion and tend to be on skateboards we place those people into the “Skater” category because of their style and habits. Tajfel and Turner (1979) summarize: “Social categorizations are conceived here as cognitive tools that segment, classify, and order the social environment, and thus enable the individual to undertake many forms of social action. […] They create and define the individual’s place in society” (p. 40). The goals of Social Identity Theory scholars is to define consequences and behavioral outcomes of the processes in the social psychology of social identity. When we put people into categories we tend to socially stereotype them which can help us interpret, explain, and even justify the behavior. The problem with stereotyping is that we even stereotype ourselves and that can lead to a bad perception of self because we feel the need to behave in ways that will support the stereotype. When people start thinking that they have to act a specific way because they are put into a stereotype it might lead to them being anxious and as they change they might grow out of the stereotype, but feel that they need to act …show more content…
Social Identity Theory assumes that we categorize ourselves and others, and that we evaluate the groups as well. We want to see how our groups stacks up to other groups and to see how reasonable and adequate our belonging to it is. We compare characteristics, members, and benefits of these groups, which is all based on Festinger’s (1954) theory of social comparison. Festinger assumes that we have a need to compare our opinions and abilities to others, especially if there is no objective standards that we can look to. The outcome of social comparisons determine our social identity and self-esteem when compared to groups that are close to the groups we are in. There are three premises for social comparison (Tajfel & Turner, 1979, p. 41). The first one is that individuals must have internalized their group membership as a part of their self-concept, which means they must be identified with their in-group. Then the second one is that the situation must allow social comparison. Thirdly, they have to have an out-group which is relevant in terms of similarity and proximity to compare to (Hinkle & Brown,

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