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Posted: January 31st, 2023

The social identity theory of Tajfel and Turner

The social identity theory of Tajfel and Turner
The social identity theory, proposed by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s, suggests that individuals derive their sense of self from the social groups they belong to. According to the theory, people categorize themselves and others into various social groups based on shared characteristics such as race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and gender.

The theory posits that individuals strive to maintain a positive social identity and will engage in behaviors that enhance the positive image of their group. This can lead to in-group favoritism, where individuals show favoritism towards their own group and discriminate against out-groups.

One important aspect of the social identity theory is the concept of social identity salience, which refers to the extent to which an individual’s social identity is important to their sense of self. When social identity is highly salient, individuals are more likely to engage in behaviors that enhance the positive image of their group.

The social identity theory has been applied to a variety of social phenomena, including intergroup conflict, prejudice, and discrimination. It has also been used to explain why individuals may engage in collective action, such as participating in social movements.

One example of the application of the social identity theory is the minimal group paradigm, which involves creating artificial groups based on arbitrary characteristics such as the flip of a coin. In these studies, individuals have been found to show in-group favoritism and out-group discrimination, even when the groups are completely arbitrary and have no real-world significance.

The social identity theory provides a useful framework for understanding how individuals derive their sense of self from their social group membership and how this can influence their behavior towards other groups.

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