The Full Wiki

Social identity: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Social identity is a theory expounded by Henri Tajfel and John Turner[1] to understand the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. It is composed of four elements:

  • Categorization: people often put others (and ourselves) into categories. Labeling someone a Muslim, a Turk, a Gimp or a Socca playa mate are ways of saying other things about these people.
  • Identification: people also associate with certain groups (ingroups and outgroups), which serves to bolster our self-esteem.
  • Comparison: people compare our groups with other groups, seeing a favorable bias toward the group to which we belong. In modern day times younger people stereotypically divide themselves into social groups like jocks, goths and hoodies.
  • Psychological Distinctiveness: people desire our identity to be both distinct from and positively compared with other groups[2].

As formulated by Tajfel, social identity theory is a diffuse but interrelated group of social psychological theories concerned with when and why individuals identify with, and behave as part of, social groups, adopting shared attitudes to outsiders. It is also concerned with what difference it makes when encounters between individuals are perceived as encounters between group members. Social identity theory is thus concerned both with the psychological and sociological aspects of group behaviour.

Reacting against individualistic explanations of group behaviour (e.g. Floyd Allport) on one hand, and tendencies to reify the group on the other, Tajfel sought an account of group identity that held together both society and individual. Tajfel first sought to differentiate between those elements of self-identity derived from individual personality traits and interpersonal relationships (personal identity) and those elements derived from belonging to a particular group (social identity).



Each individual is seen to have a repertoire of identities open to them (social and personal), each identity informing the individual of who he is and what this identity entails. Which of these many identities is most salient for an individual at any time will vary according to the social context. The theory postulates that social behaviour exists on a spectrum from the purely interpersonal to the purely intergroup. Where personal identity is salient, the individual will relate to others in an interpersonal manner, dependent on their character traits and any personal relationship existing between the individuals. However, under certain conditions "social identity is more salient than personal identity in self-conception and that when this is the case behaviour is qualitatively different: it is group behaviour."

"Social identities... are associated with normative rights, obligations and sanctions which, within specific collectivities, form roles. The use of standardized markers, especially to do with the bodily attributes of age and gender, is fundamental in all societies, notwithstanding large cross-cultural variations which can be noted." by Giddens

In the sphere of economics, two separate papers by Akerlof and Kranton[3][4] incorporate social identity factor to principal-agent model. The main conclusion is that when the agents consider themselves insiders, they will maximize their identity utility by exerting the high effort level comparing with the prescription behavior. On the other hand, if they consider themselves outsiders, they will require a higher wage to compensate their lose for behavior difference with prescription behaviors.

While this macro-economic theory deals exclusively with already well established categories of social identity, Laszlo Garai when applied the concept of social identity in the economic psychology[5] takes into consideration identities in statu nascendi[6]. A further special feature of Garai's theory on social identity is that he presented[7] a complementary theory on an inter-individual mechanism the inter-individual phenomena studied by the social psychology may be accorded to. The theory that is referred to the macro-processes based on a large-scale production later has been applied by L. Garai to the individual creativity's psychology.[8]

Chen and Li[9] test the social identity effect in the lab using strategic method and find that when people are matched with ingroup members, they will be more likely to have “charity” concern[10] and less likely to have “envy” concern. Another experiment conducted by Oxoby Knoby[11] has the same results with Chen and Li in the aspect of positive reciprocity, but in the negative reciprocity, evidences from Oxoby show that people will be more likely to take revenge when they get negative reciprocity from in-group members in sequential games, which leaves it as an open question in both experimental economics and social identity theory.

See also


  1. ^ Tajfel, Henri; Turner, John (1979). "An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict". in Austin, William G.; Worchel, Stephen. The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations. Monterey, CA: Brooks-Cole. pp. 94–109. ISBN 0818502789. OCLC 4194174. Retrieved 2008-07-21.  
  2. ^ Taylor, Donald; Moghaddam, Fathali (1994-06-30). "Social Identity Theory". Theories of Intergroup Relations: International Social Psychological Perspectives (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. pp. 80–1. ISBN 0275946355. OCLC 29319924. Retrieved 2008-07-21.  
  3. ^ Akerlof, George A.; Kranton, Rachel E. (August 2000). "Economics and Identity". The Quarterly Journal of Economics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) 115 (3): 715–53. doi:10.1162/003355300554881. OCLC 1763227. Retrieved 2008-07-21.  
  4. ^ Akerlof, George A.; Kranton, Rachel E. (Winter 2005). "Identity and the Economics of Organizations". Journal of Economic Perspectives (Nashville, TN: American Economic Association) 19 (1): 9–32. doi:10.1257/0895330053147930. OCLC 16474127. Retrieved 2008-07-21.  
  5. ^ Garai, Laszlo: Identity Economics
  6. ^ Cf. e.g. Garai, Laszlo: The Bureaucratic State Governed by an Illegal Movement: Soviet-Type societies and Bolshevik-Type Parties. Political Psychology. 1991. 10:1. 165-179.
  7. ^ In his keynote paper on the International Conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Lev Vygotsky. Vygotskian implications: On the meaning and its brain. Proceedings, No. 3. Pre-published: The brain and the mechanism of psychosocial phenomena. Journal of Russian and East-European Psychology. 31:6. 71-91.
  8. ^ Identities of Attila Jozsef: [A study in psychology of creativity]
  9. ^ Chen, Yan; Li, Sherry Xin (March 2009). "Group Identity and Social Preferences". American Economic Review (Pittsburgh, PA: American Economic Association) 99 (1): 431-457.  
  10. ^ Charness, Gary; Rabin, Matthew (August 2002). "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests". The Quarterly Journal of Economics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) 117 (3): 817–69. doi:10.1162/003355302760193904. OCLC 1763227. Retrieved 2008-07-21.  
  11. ^ Oxoby, Robert J.; McLeish, Kendra N. (January 2007). "Identity, Cooperation, and Punishment". Discussion Paper No. 2572. Institute for the Study of Labor. Retrieved 2008-07-20.  

External links

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity


Social identity refers to one's perception of one's self in relation to group memberships and degree of identification with various social groups.

See also

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address