Social Identity Theory Essay

Submitted By jaysmalls24
Words: 596
Pages: 3

Social identity theory (SIT) aims to resolve some of these problems highlighted with the psychosocial tradition, by producing a social rather than individual focus on identity, emphasizing on the way we compare ourselves to others.
Psychosocial Theory is a persuasive model. It is both accessible and relevant, resulting in Erikson being highly regarded amongst psychologists. He has been described as a visionary, providing a basis for the work of James Marcia on different forms of identity. The theory is still relevant in today’s modern life, due to its “utility in many professional arenas [such as] clinical, theoretical and empirical” (McKinney, 2001). Erikson has had a huge impact in child development, resulting in teachers, parents and counselors drawing on ideals of his to support their work. Theorists such as Mary Ainsworth, who studied attachment in infancy explained concepts similar to those of Erikson, offering credibility to his work.
Concerned with when and why individuals identify with, and behave as part of, social groups, adopting shared attitudes. Tajfel, the founder of the theory, directly challenged the eriksons concept that group behaviour could be explained by looking at the psychology of individuals. He studied the relationships between people and proposed two separate sub-systems; Personal Identity (describing oneself as a friend or parent for example) and Social Identity (in instances such as referring to gender, race or religion). Their alternative theory suggested a distinctive level of collective psychological processes. This meant that people acted as group members as well as individuals. Their central idea was that behaviour and identity operated on a continuum based on situation, ranging from the highly individual and unique at one end (purely interpersonal), to the collective and common at the other (purely intergroup).The theory’s fundamental idea is that identity is drawn from selfcatagorisation, when describing characteristics from our social group. This provides labels for ourselves, in turn provding rules for our behaviour. The category in which we place ourselves is called the “ingroup”. There is a sence of elitism and a tendency to exclude others; the “outgroup”. Tajfel research aimed to consider this discrimination between the groups, by proposing superficial differences, he split participants into inial groups and subjected the to ....he concluded that this was sufficient enough to generate predujices. This has been demonstrated, for instance in one example