Social Identity Theory: Brings More Harm Than Good?


Social Identity Theory is claimed to be the most significant of Henri Tajfel to psychology. Many people do not actually what this is but it has a significant impact as to who someone is based from his group affiliations or membership. Learn more about Social Identity Theory in today’s post.

How Social Identity Theory Came About

Henri Tajfel said that a person’s confidence and pride can be linked to his affiliations or groups such as his basketball team, family, and friends, among others. Any of these groups can have a big impact in someone’s life as well as his concepts, principles, and habits, among others. Groups can give a sense of social identity or belonging-ness in the society for one person.

To take a look at it: For instance, you should be able to increase or enhance your group’s status in order to improve your self-image as well. By saying that simply means that your confidence or pride can be increased if you would also contribute to the good welfare of your group. For instance, you can say “We’re the best soccer team in the United States!” By claiming this for your group, you can enhance your self-outlook; therefore, you can greatly improve how you look at yourself by also thinking of how to increase the pride of your group.

Social Identity Theory Brings the “Us” and the “Them”

People belong in different groups in the society so you would always hear these ‘us and them,’ so if you don’t belong to their group you don’t belong to their ‘us.’ The same way goes to any member of another group. He cannot become part of your ‘them group’ because he belongs in his own. This is where social categorization comes about. It’s quite simple. Each person is part of his ‘in-group’ as well as another person.

However, this social categorization in the society has caused the discrimination. Some people who belong to a particular group sometimes try to demoralize or outcast others. At many times, discrimination to an outcast is because of uplifting the image of one’s group. For example, “Koreans suck in English, but Americans are the best!” It is so easy to see how a group can degrade another group to enhance their image.

Views to degrade another group have resulted in several social problems such as racism. There are extreme forms of them that caused the killing of many people even in the past. One typical example was what happened in Germany, where a mass murder they called ‘genocide’ took place when the Germans killed many Jews.

What resulted here is ‘stereotyping.’ When someone is put in a specific category, he might be judged according to the stereotyped characteristic of that group. People tend to take all members of that group to have the same attributes. Therefore, those who do not really possess such characteristics are prejudged based from their social group. As you see, the Social Identity Theory has somehow made things complicated for many people and have caused prejudice and discrimination which still occur today.