Social Identity Theory

Topics: Social identity, Self-esteem, Identity Pages: 2 (280 words) Published: November 3, 2010
Social identity theory

* Human beings have a basic need for positive self-esteem Personal identity
* I like Mozart, I am a quiet person, I am prone to minor episodes of depression Social identity
* I am a South African, I am female, I am Muslim
Key facets of Social Identity Theory:

The importance and ubiquity of categorization

* People have a strong tendency to mentally organize things and people (including themselves) into categories

To the extent that we associate ourselves with groups (i.e. categorize ourselves),we have social identities * Social identities (via our group memberships) are important aspects of how we define ourselves Social Identity Theory

Social identities also dictate our perceptions of members of our “in-groups” as… * Similar to us, at least on the dimension that defines the group, and other positive attributes

And social identities serve to distinguish us and those in our in-group from members of out-groups

Social comparison

Social comparison is the evaluation of ourselves (our performance, our abilities, our appearance, etc.) in relation to others * Upward social comparison
1. i.e., relative to those who are “better” or “better off” 2. Tends to lower our self-esteem

* Downward social comparison
1. i.e., relative to those who are “worse” or “worse off” 2. Tends to raise our self-esteem

So, when we identify with a group that are valued we’ll feel good about ourselves

We maximise our self esteem when we select the values in which our group excels in and compare those values with the values of out-groups

It is also maximised by distorting the image / perception of the out group and this is also known as stereotyping or prejudice
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