Social Identity theory

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 7:27 PM

IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS • In-groups: Groups that we belong to • Out-groups: Groups that we don't belong to

THREE FACTORS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY • Social Categorization: We divide people into in-groups and out-groups • Social Identity: Part of our identity stems from our in-group • Social Comparison/Positive distinction: We have a tendency to compare our ingroups with other groups and to show that our group is superior to others SUPPORTING RESEARCH • Tajfel and Turner (1979): Participants were randomly divided into groups and asked to allocated points to either in-group or outgroup members. The points were to be translated into a monetary award, but the allocation was anonymous. There was a tendency to allocate more points to in-group members than out-group members. • Yuki (2005): Found that both Japanese and American subjects favored their in-group. However, Japanese people were more likely to ask help from strangers that did not belong to their in-group • Jane Eliot study: When children were told that blue eyes was superior to brown eyes, the blue eyed children (in-group) started discriminating the brown eyed children (outgroup) • Hraba and Grant – black/white doll study: In the 60s, black children preferred black dolls and white children preferred white dolls (supports social identity theory). However, in the 30s, black children preferred to play with white dolls. This demonstrates that cultural norms can alter the positive distinction factor of the group.

SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY (TAJFEL & TURNER, 1979) • Our social identity, a part of our identity is derived from the social groups that we belong to and that we do not belong to (defining who we are by who we aren't) • We derive self esteem by positively differentiating our in-group from out-group ("us" and "them) • We therefore tend to categorize our social environment into groups • We tend to favorize our in-group over out-group EVALUATION(TAJFEL); DISADVANTAGES • Identification with an in-group may sometimes lead to low self esteem (e.g. being black in the 1930:s – Clark and Clark 1939, Jane Eliot classroom exercise) • The social identity process can also be affected by permeability (e.g. Haslam & Reicher 2006) • We may also develop our self esteem and identity through our individuality • Methodological problems of supporting studies (generalisability and ecological validity) • Possible cultural differences for in-group favouritism (Yuki et al 2005) • The results of the Tajfel study may be due to the competitive behavior, not in-group bias EVALUATION (TAJFEL); ADVANTAGES • Supporting research • Understanding of prejudice • Can be used for predictions of social behavior in groups • Methodological advantages of supporting studies (well controlled, standardized procedures) • Can be generalized to other cultures (Yuki et al. 2005)

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