Social Identity Theory

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Outline two different psychological approaches to identity.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

Psychosocial theory

Erik Erikson was a German psychoanalyst who devised psychosocial theory from clinical and naturalistic observation and the analysing of biographies of famous men.
Erikson believed the environment that young people grow up in helps to shape their identities. This coupled with the attributes and characteristics genetically inherited from parents gives us our ‘core identity.’???????????????

There are eight stages of identity development a person must negotiate. These stages are divided into age ranges that are not rigid, and range from birth to late adulthood. Each stage is further divided into a positive outcome or a negative outcome that results in internal conflict or normative crisis until one or the other is achieved.

It is believed that adolescence is a particularly important time in a youth’s life as several life decisions must be confronted. The result will hopefully be a secure feeling of who and what one is; a term named ‘ego identity.’ If this isn’t achieved the youth is said to be in a state of ‘role diffusion.’

Adolescence is also viewed as a time of psychosocial moratorium. During this period a young person can delay the transition to adulthood and experiment with different identities until they find a favourable one.

It has been observed that some young people cannot progress to adulthood due to experiencing an ‘identity crisis.’
This theory also suggests that cohesion within a group is important to the development of identity. If a young person is feeling a loss of identity then they can become nasty towards members of a different group for the most arbitrary of reasons.

James Marcia, a clinical psychologist, devised a method of measuring Erikson’s theory. This took the form of the Identity Status Interview.

Social Identity Theory ( SIT )

Social Identity Theory is a theory devised by Henri...
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