Social Identity Theory: An Introduction

tdixon Social and Cultural Psychology Leave a Comment

Tajfel an Turner developed Social Identity Theory (SIT) in the 1960s and 70s. Essentially, it’s a theory that attempts to explain inter-group conflict, including prejudice and discrimination between two groups.

Does your behaviour change when you’re in a group?

Think about how you might act differently when spending time with your family, and with your friends. Is your self-esteem and self-identity influenced by your belonging to these groups? SIT posits that group membership influences behaviour. Moreover, we try to boost our self-esteem by making our in-group superior to other out-groups.

SIT can be used to explain a range of behaviours, such as stereotype, prejudice, discrimination, inter-group violence and conflict.

You can read more about SIT here or head back to the Social Influence homepage for more helpful links to resources on SIT.

Evaluate social identity theory, making reference to relevant studies.

In order to be able to evaluate SIT you need to be able to do the following:

  • Describe the theory, including its key concepts and understandings
  • Explain how SIT can be demonstrated in research 
  • Explain the limitations of the supporting research
  • Explain other criticisms of SIT
    • You might also be able to determine the extent to which SIT can be applied to various real-life situations. 

Remember to check out this post on how to evaluate psychological research (including theories) to guide you through your evaluation of SIT.

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