Author Topic: Social Identity Theory  (Read 723 times)

Offline stromboli (OP)

Social Identity Theory
« on: August 22, 2016, 09:15:03 AM »
http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html

Quote
Social identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group membership(s).

Tajfel (1979) proposed that the groups (e.g. social class, family, football team etc.) which people belonged to were an important source of pride and self-esteem. Groups give us a sense of social identity: a sense of belonging to the social world.

In order to increase our self-image we enhance the status of the group to which we belong. For example, England is the best country in the world!  We can also increase our self-image by discriminating and holding prejudice views against the out group (the group we don’t belong to). For example, the Americans, French etc. are a bunch of losers!

Therefore, we divided the world into “them” and “us” based through a process of social categorization (i.e. we put people into social groups).

This is known as in-group (us) and out-group (them).  Social identity theory states that the in-group will discriminate against the out-group to enhance their self-image.

The central hypothesis of social identity theory is that group members of an in-group will seek to find negative aspects of an out-group, thus enhancing their self-image.


Prejudiced views between cultures may result in racism; in its extreme forms, racism may result in genocide, such as occurred in Germany with the Jews, in Rwanda between the Hutus and Tutsis and, more recently, in the former Yugoslavia between the Bosnians and Serbs.

Henri Tajfel proposed that stereotyping (i.e. putting people into groups and categories) is based on a normal cognitive process: the tendency to group things together. In doing so we tend to exaggerate:

1. the differences between groups

2. the similarities of things in the same group.

We categorize people in the same way. We see the group to which we belong (the in-group) as being different from the others (the out-group), and members of the same group as being more similar than they are. Social categorization is one explanation for prejudice attitudes (i.e. “them” and “us” mentality) which leads to in-groups and out-groups.

Examples of In-groups – Out-groups
o Northern Ireland: Catholics – Protestants

o Rwanda: Hutus and Tutsis

o Yugoslavia: the Bosnians and Serbs

o Germany: Jews and the Nazis

o Politics: Labor and the Conservatives

o Football: Liverpool and Man Utd

o Gender: Males and Females

o Social Class: Middle and Working Classes

Social Identity Theory Outline
Tajfel and Turner (1979) proposed that there are three mental processes involved in evaluating others as “us” or “them” (i.e. “in-group” and “out-group”. These take place in a particular order.


Social identity theory
The first is categorization. We categorize objects in order to understand them and identify them. In a very similar way we categorize people (including ourselves) in order to understand the social environment.  We use social categories like black, white, Australian, Christian, Muslim, student, and bus driver because they are useful.

If we can assign people to a category then that tells us things about those people, and as we saw with the bus driver example, we couldn't function in a normal manner without using these categories; i.e. in the context of the bus.

Similarly, we find out things about ourselves by knowing what categories we belong to.  We define appropriate behavior by reference to the norms of groups we belong to, but you can only do this if you can tell who belongs to your group. An individual can belong to many different groups.

In the second stage, social identification, we adopt the identity of the group we have categorized ourselves as belonging to.  If for example you have categorized yourself as a student, the chances are you will adopt the identity of a student and begin to act in the ways you believe students act (and conform to the norms of the group).  There will be an emotional significance to your identification with a group, and your self-esteem will become bound up with group membership.

The final stage is social comparison.  Once we have categorized ourselves as part of a group and have identified with that group we then tend to compare that group with other groups. If our self-esteem is to be maintained our group needs to compare favorably with other groups.

This is critical to understanding prejudice, because once two groups identify themselves as rivals, they are forced to compete in order for the members to maintain their self-esteem. Competition and hostility between groups is thus not only a matter of competing for resources (like in Sherif’s Robbers Cave) like jobs but also the result of competing identities.

Conclusion
Just to reiterate, in social identity theory the group membership is not something foreign or artificial which is attached onto the person, it is a real, true and vital part of the person.


Again, it is crucial to remember in-groups are groups you identify with, and out-groups are ones that we don't identify with, and may discriminate against.

It works for me. It explains a lot, including the phrase I often use, the "circle the wagons" mentality. In Mormonism there is a constant "you either follow the prophet or be damned" mindset. the level of enforcement and internalizing of the concept is what separates a religion from a cult. When people internalize the mindset given them as members, then they become rabid supporters and in effect give themselves to the organization. This same idea carries over into businesses that have group sessions to reinforce loyalty among the workers.

« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 09:25:05 AM by stromboli »

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 09:32:56 AM »
Conservatives tend to focus on in-groups and out-groups more than progressives or libertarians.


Offline stromboli (OP)

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2016, 09:37:32 AM »
Conservatives tend to focus on in-groups and out-groups more than progressives or libertarians.

(Image removed from quote.)

For sure. When you look at groups like the Oathkeepers you can see insular nature of their group. Religion is certainly an example of it.

Offline stromboli (OP)

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2016, 09:51:30 AM »
This is a related topic I thought interesting. Sorry, too lazy to make another thread.

https://thebangladeshihumanist.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/the-unexamined-life-how-dogmatic-religion-undermines-critical-thinking-and-analytical-skepticism/

How dogmatic religion undermines critical thinking and analytical skepticism

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2016, 01:15:08 PM »
Conservatives tend to focus on in-groups and out-groups more than progressives or libertarians.
Yep.  Good ol' moral foundations theory.

Liberals generally place more of an emphasis on fairness than conservatives, and conservatives are more likely to emphasize "sanctity" and authority.  You can see this play out on the gay marriage issue.  Liberals argue that it's not fair that gay couples can't be legally married and enjoy the benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples.  Meanwhile, conservatives argue that god said it's wrong (which historically, hasn't exactly been exactly a winning argument) or that it'd be wrong to "redefine marriage" (appeal to tradition).  Both sides are coming at this from different basic values and there's not a lot of room for common ground - liberals aren't going to accept unfairness in the name of piety or tradition, and conservatives aren't going to accept a perceived rubber stamp for sexual immorality condemned in the Bible.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 04:49:57 PM by Hydra009 »

Offline Baruch

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2016, 07:35:01 PM »
It is very important to me, what goup I see myself in.  Humanity, and even American ... are too big.  Being aligned with some ethnic group, given my mixed ancestry, does the trick.  Could be anything plausible ... I don't fit as an Irish-American Catholic ... so Jewish-American freethinker fits better.
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Offline stromboli (OP)

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2016, 11:23:21 PM »
It is interesting to me because I have been part of several groups through the years that ranged from ultra conservative to ultra liberal. Don't actually see myself as belonging to any of them, other than human being and secular humanist. Used to vote Republican. Al Gore was the first democrat I voted for.

Offline Sal1981

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2016, 08:36:45 AM »
Seems to me that "social identity", the way it is used here, means simple-minded sense of belonging to some group or ideology. I'm skeptical of any identity politics because, as stated, that people inadvertently go to a "us vs them" mentality. Sure, categorizing a group of people or a collection of ideas/practices into some sort of common denominator makes for easy thought process. You don't have to state a whole segment on some idea or group of people if you have a label to attach to them. I just think it's the ideologues that take it a few steps further and make it an idea or group-think in and of itself.

It's easy to see this in the current SJW/anti-SJW rhetoric. Just labeling something one or the other makes it easy to dismiss/adhere to some specific thoughts associated with that particular position.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman

Offline SGOS

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2016, 08:54:06 AM »
It is interesting to me because I have been part of several groups through the years that ranged from ultra conservative to ultra liberal. Don't actually see myself as belonging to any of them, other than human being and secular humanist. Used to vote Republican. Al Gore was the first democrat I voted for.

Back a few years before Gore's run, I voted for a Republican County Commissioner.  He was the only Republican I have ever voted for.  He was extremely conservative, and had some pretty distasteful viewpoints, but the Democrat he ran against was even more conservative, and not very bright either. I could never understand why that Democratic smaltz ran as a Democrat, but at the time, the county was strongly blue collar democratic, and I suspect he decided to be a Democrat was the only way of winning an election.  And having lost his job, he really needed another with a source of income, so he would do whatever was necessary to find employment.

At first he was well received by the local Democrats, although I never understood why.  I think it was a case where people identified so strongly with a party that they lose focus of anything beyond their sense of victory at the election box.  That Democrat made it through at least two terms and won by significant margins.  But then the mill closed down, and the mine closed down, and the blue collar workers left the county to find new jobs.  In a small town, two such events have a powerful effect on demographics, and the political make up shifted from strongly Democrat to overwhelmingly Republican.

Now the Democratic County Commissioner, just switched parties giving some explanation about morality as I remember.  This did not sit well with the remaining Democrats, who wanted their candidate to continue whatever shit he was doing under the Democrat product label.  The Republicans weren't all that impressed with him either, and probably viewed him as less than sincere about party affiliations, so he lost the next election.  It didn't help that he was under investigation for misappropriating county funds, either.  Although, it just amounted to helping himself to mostly nickels and dimes, probably small potatoes as embezzlements go, but it didn't work very well as a campaign strategy.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 09:00:09 AM by SGOS »

Offline Baruch

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 06:43:32 PM »
Bill and Hillary would have run as Republicans, if they were a little younger.  When the entered politics, Arkansas was still Democratic.
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Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 08:54:24 PM »
Bill and Hillary would have run as Republicans, if they were a little younger.  When the entered politics, Arkansas was still Democratic.

Hillary Clinton is more republican than many think.
The fireworks in my head don't ever seem to stop

Offline Baruch

Re: Social Identity Theory
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2016, 09:01:39 PM »
Hillary Clinton is more republican than many think.

Shh, don't tell the voters ;-)
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