Social Identity Theory

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Psychologists are debating and trying to figure out whether the social identity theory, a theory developed by Tajfel Turner (1979) for the examination of intergroup relations, is a robust way of explaining behaviour. There has been many research studies in the past that proves that it is a robust way of explaining behaviour. Social identity theory explains human behaviours such as in-group favouritism, and ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the act of believing that one’s social group is centrally important, and that all other groups are below them on the social pyramid. In this case, one will judge other groups on their ethnic group, language, religion and behaviour. This also connects with the intergroup behaviour, intergroup differentiation. This behaviour is when one emphasises differences in-group and out groups. Ethnocentrism was demonstrated in a small class exercise Jane Elliot did with her students in 1968, when people were being segregated because of their skin colours. Jane Elliot’s aim was to make the children experience how it would feel like to be treated in the way a person of colour was treated. She divided the class into two groups; children with blue eyes were in one group and children with brown eyes in the other. For two days the groups were segregated and discriminated in the classroom; one group was the “better” group and got more privileges while the other lost their privileges.…show more content…
This research demonstrated that people seek a positive social identity and that their social identity is affected by being part of their group. However, there has been some conflict due to ethical issues. Some say that this study didn’t follow the ethical guidelines required for a study. It violated the informed consent rule, where the participants must be informed about the nature of the study and agree to participate. The students being observed and interviewed in the universities were not informed of the study or its purposes and didn’t give their consent. Although social identity theory has its strengths, it also has its limitations. One of the limitations is that social identity theory cannot explain how in-group favouritism leads to violent behaviours towards out-groups. Also, there are a lot of different social identities which introduces a lot of theories to do with human behaviour. However, the theory does not state which identity will determine human
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