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WHAT IS SOCIAL IDENTITY AND HOW DOES IT INFLUENCE OUR THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIOUR? SUPPORT YOUR ANSWER WITH REFERENCE TO RELEVANT THEORY AND RESEARCH.

According to theorists Tajfel and Turner, social identity refers to that part of the self-concept that derives from our membership in social groups. Social identity can be a very important aspect of our self-concept as it is associated with many group and intergroup behaviours such as ethnocentrism, ingroup bias, group solidarity, intergroup discrimination, conformity, normative behaviour, stereotyping and prejudice (Hogg & Vaughan, 2018). It reflects the fact that in thinking about who we are, we can define ourselves (and our sense of self) not just as “I” and “me”, but also (and often more importantly) as “we” and “us”, ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {“citationID”:”Jheq1iOq”,”properties”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Jetten, Haslam, & Haslam, 2012)”,”plainCitation”:”(Jetten, Haslam, & Haslam, 2012)”,”noteIndex”:0},”citationItems”:{“id”:15,”uris”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/HV8CLXFN”,”uri”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/HV8CLXFN”,”itemData”:{“id”:15,”type”:”book”,”title”:”The Social Cure: Identity, Health and Well-Being”,”publisher”:”Psychology Press”,”number-of-pages”:”409″,”source”:”Google Books”,”abstract”:”A growing body of research shows that social networks and identities have a profound impact on mental and physical health. With such mounting evidence of the importance of social relationships in protecting health, the challenge we face is explaining why this should be the case. What is it that social groups offer that appears to be just as beneficial as a daily dose of vitamin C or regular exercise? This edited book brings together the latest research on how group memberships, and the social identities associated with them, determine people’s health and well-being. The volume provides a variety of perspectives from clinical, social, organisational and applied fields that offer theoretical and empirical insights into these processes and their consequences. The contributions present a rich and novel analysis of core theoretical issues relating to the ways in which social identities, and factors associated with them (such as social support and a sense of community), can bolster individuals’ sense of self and contribute to physical and mental health. In this way it is shown how social identities constitute a ‘social cure’, capable of promoting adjustment, coping and well-being for individuals dealing with a range of illnesses, injuries, trauma and stressors. In addition, these theories provide a platform for practical strategies that can maintain and enhance well-being, particularly among vulnerable populations. Contributors to the book are at the forefront of these developments and the book’s strength derives from its analysis of factors that shape the health and well-being of a broad range of groups. It presents powerful insights which have important implications for health, clinical, social and organisational psychology and a range of cognate fields.”,”ISBN”:”978-1-136-69826-2″,”note”:”Google-Books-ID: EeB4AgAAQBAJ”,”shortTitle”:”The Social Cure”,”language”:”en”,”author”:{“family”:”Jetten”,”given”:”Jolanda”},{“family”:”Haslam”,”given”:”Catherine”},{“family”:”Haslam”,”given”:”Alexander”,”suffix”:”S.”},”issued”:{“date-parts”:”2012″,1,25}}},”schema”:”https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} (Jetten, Haslam, & Haslam, 2012). Social identity influences our thoughts and behaviour in many ways.

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One idea of how social identity affects our thoughts and behaviour is that of positive distinctiveness: the way in which groups compete to be different from one another in favourable ways. They compete in this way because positive intergroup distinctiveness proves group members with a favourable and/or positive social identity. This phenomena known as ‘positive distinctiveness’ was devised by Tajfel and Turner (1986). It follows that, when social identity is unsatisfactory, individuals will strive to either leave their existing group and join some more positively distinct group and/ or to make their existing group more positively distinct ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {“citationID”:”HnSj6gSe”,”properties”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Tajfel ; Turner, 2004)”,”plainCitation”:”(Tajfel ; Turner, 2004)”,”dontUpdate”:true,”noteIndex”:0},”citationItems”:{“id”:36,”uris”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/JGE7TB8G”,”uri”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/JGE7TB8G”,”itemData”:{“id”:36,”type”:”book”,”title”:”The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior”,”collection-title”:”Political psychology: Key readings”,”publisher”:”Psychology Press”,”publisher-place”:”New York, NY, US”,”number-of-pages”:”276″,”source”:”APA PsycNET”,”event-place”:”New York, NY, US”,”abstract”:”This reprinted chapter originally appeared in (Psychology of Intergroup Relations ed. by S. Worchel; W. G. Austin, 1986, 7-24.) The aim of this chapter is to present an outline of a theory of intergroup conflict and some preliminary data relating to the theory. It begins with a discussion of alternative approaches to intergroup conflict with special attention to the “realistic group conflict theory” (RCT). RCT’s relative neglect of the processes underlying the development and maintenance of group identity and the possibly autonomous effects upon the in-group and intergroup behavior is responsible for some inconsistencies between the empirical data and the theory in its “classical” form. In this sense, the theoretical orientation to be outlined in this chapter is intended not to replace RCT, but to supplement it in some respects that seem essential for an adequate social psychology of intergroup conflict–particularly as the understanding of the psychological aspects of social change cannot be achieved without an appropriate analysis of the social psychology of social conflict. The authors argue that people derive a sense of self-worth and social belongingness from their memberships in groups, and so they are motivated to draw favorable comparisons between their own group and other groups. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)”,”ISBN”:”978-1-84169-069-8″,”author”:{“family”:”Tajfel”,”given”:”Henri”},{“family”:”Turner”,”given”:”John C.”},”issued”:{“date-parts”:”2004″}}},”schema”:”https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). Trying to achieve positive distinctiveness and positive social identity underpins a range of phenomena which influence how we think and how we behave (Ellemers, Spears & Doosje, 1999). According to Nick Elmer, delinquent behaviour, particularly among boys, is strategic behaviour designed to manage a favourable reputation in the eyes of relevant peers (Elmer & Hopkins, 1990; Elmer & Reicher, 1995). Reicher and Elmer (1985) suggest that one reason boys are more likely than girls to become delinquent is due to the fact that there is greater pressure on boys to achieve success in school, and therefore underachievement is more poignantly felt: the motivation to establish an alternative positive social identity is much stronger.

Social identity is also closely associated with self-esteem, meaning that the feelings about and evaluations of oneself is easily influenced by one’s social identity. According to Hogg and Vaughan, by identifying with a group, that group’s prestige and status in society attaches to one’s self concept. Studies by Crandall (1994) show that, for example, being identified as belonging to a group of obese people is less likely to generate positive self-esteem than being identified as belonging to a group of Olympic athletes. Various studies have shown that ethnicity and race are important sources of social identity-related self-esteem. Many of these studies have shown that members of ethnic minorities often report perceptions of lowered self-esteem, but only when making inter-ethnic or inter-racial comparisons with dominant groups (e.g. Cross, 1987).

Another concept that explores how social identity can influence our thoughts and behaviour is that of ‘BIRGing’ or ‘basking in reflected glory’. The tendency to “bask in reflected glory” (BIRG) is to publicly announce one’s associations with successful others, even if the person had no involvement in how successful the others were, ( ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {“citationID”:”cT2d8Uq7″,”properties”:{“custom”:”Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. R. (1976)”,”formattedCitation”:”Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. R. (1976)”,”plainCitation”:”Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. R. (1976)”,”noteIndex”:0},”citationItems”:{“id”:32,”uris”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/FUGMIZ9M”,”uri”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/FUGMIZ9M”,”itemData”:{“id”:32,”type”:”article”,”title”:”Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. R. (1976). Basking in reflected glor”}},”schema”:”https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. R., 1976). One of a series of experiments done by ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {“citationID”:”0y6OTcX3″,”properties”:{“custom”:”Cialdini et al., (1976)”,”formattedCitation”:”Cialdini et al., (1976)”,”plainCitation”:”Cialdini et al., (1976)”,”noteIndex”:0},”citationItems”:{“id”:31,”uris”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/7GI2F3SA”,”uri”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/7GI2F3SA”,”itemData”:{“id”:31,”type”:”article-journal”,”title”:”Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies”,”container-title”:”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”,”page”:”366-375″,”volume”:”34″,”issue”:”3″,”source”:”APA PsycNET”,”abstract”:”The tendency to “bask in reflected glory” (BIRG) by publicly announcing one’s associations with successful others was investigated in 3 field experiments with more than 300 university students. All 3 studies showed this effect to occur even though the person striving to bask in the glory of a successful source was not involved in the cause of the source’s success. Exp I demonstrated the BIRG phenomenon by showing a greater tendency for university students to wear school-identifying apparel after their school’s football team had been victorious than nonvictorious. Exps II and III replicated this effect by showing that students used the pronoun we more when describing victory than a nonvictory of their school’s football team. A model was developed asserting that the BIRG response represents an attempt to enhance one’s public image. Exps II and III indicated, in support of this assertion, that the tendency to proclaim a connection with a positive source was strongest when one’s public image was threatened. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)”,”DOI”:”10.1037/0022-3514.34.3.366″,”ISSN”:”1939-1315(Electronic),0022-3514(Print)”,”shortTitle”:”Basking in reflected glory”,”author”:{“family”:”Cialdini”,”given”:”Robert B.”},{“family”:”Borden”,”given”:”Richard J.”},{“family”:”Thorne”,”given”:”Avril”},{“family”:”Walker”,”given”:”Marcus Randall”},{“family”:”Freeman”,”given”:”Stephen”},{“family”:”Sloan”,”given”:”Lloyd Reynolds”},”issued”:{“date-parts”:”1976″}}},”schema”:”https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} Cialdini et al., (1976), demonstrated the phenomenon of ‘BIRGing’ by showing a greater tendency for college students to wear school-identifying clothing after their school’s football team had been victorious than non-victorious. The other two experiments replicated this effect by showing that students used the pronoun ‘we’ more when describing victory than a nonvictory of their school’s football team. A model was developed by ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {“citationID”:”UKCuIPr8″,”properties”:{“custom”:”Cialdini et al.”,”formattedCitation”:”Cialdini et al.”,”plainCitation”:”Cialdini et al.”,”noteIndex”:0},”citationItems”:{“id”:31,”uris”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/7GI2F3SA”,”uri”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/7GI2F3SA”,”itemData”:{“id”:31,”type”:”article-journal”,”title”:”Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies”,”container-title”:”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”,”page”:”366-375″,”volume”:”34″,”issue”:”3″,”source”:”APA PsycNET”,”abstract”:”The tendency to “bask in reflected glory” (BIRG) by publicly announcing one’s associations with successful others was investigated in 3 field experiments with more than 300 university students. All 3 studies showed this effect to occur even though the person striving to bask in the glory of a successful source was not involved in the cause of the source’s success. Exp I demonstrated the BIRG phenomenon by showing a greater tendency for university students to wear school-identifying apparel after their school’s football team had been victorious than nonvictorious. Exps II and III replicated this effect by showing that students used the pronoun we more when describing victory than a nonvictory of their school’s football team. A model was developed asserting that the BIRG response represents an attempt to enhance one’s public image. Exps II and III indicated, in support of this assertion, that the tendency to proclaim a connection with a positive source was strongest when one’s public image was threatened. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)”,”DOI”:”10.1037/0022-3514.34.3.366″,”ISSN”:”1939-1315(Electronic),0022-3514(Print)”,”shortTitle”:”Basking in reflected glory”,”author”:{“family”:”Cialdini”,”given”:”Robert B.”},{“family”:”Borden”,”given”:”Richard J.”},{“family”:”Thorne”,”given”:”Avril”},{“family”:”Walker”,”given”:”Marcus Randall”},{“family”:”Freeman”,”given”:”Stephen”},{“family”:”Sloan”,”given”:”Lloyd Reynolds”},”issued”:{“date-parts”:”1976″}}},”schema”:”https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} Cialdini et al., (1976), supporting that the BIRG response represents an attempt to enhance one’s public image. Experiments two and three of the series done by ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {“citationID”:”W6QRELj1″,”properties”:{“custom”:”Cialdini et al.”,”formattedCitation”:”Cialdini et al.”,”plainCitation”:”Cialdini et al.”,”noteIndex”:0},”citationItems”:{“id”:31,”uris”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/7GI2F3SA”,”uri”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/7GI2F3SA”,”itemData”:{“id”:31,”type”:”article-journal”,”title”:”Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies”,”container-title”:”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”,”page”:”366-375″,”volume”:”34″,”issue”:”3″,”source”:”APA PsycNET”,”abstract”:”The tendency to “bask in reflected glory” (BIRG) by publicly announcing one’s associations with successful others was investigated in 3 field experiments with more than 300 university students. All 3 studies showed this effect to occur even though the person striving to bask in the glory of a successful source was not involved in the cause of the source’s success. Exp I demonstrated the BIRG phenomenon by showing a greater tendency for university students to wear school-identifying apparel after their school’s football team had been victorious than nonvictorious. Exps II and III replicated this effect by showing that students used the pronoun we more when describing victory than a nonvictory of their school’s football team. A model was developed asserting that the BIRG response represents an attempt to enhance one’s public image. Exps II and III indicated, in support of this assertion, that the tendency to proclaim a connection with a positive source was strongest when one’s public image was threatened. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)”,”DOI”:”10.1037/0022-3514.34.3.366″,”ISSN”:”1939-1315(Electronic),0022-3514(Print)”,”shortTitle”:”Basking in reflected glory”,”author”:{“family”:”Cialdini”,”given”:”Robert B.”},{“family”:”Borden”,”given”:”Richard J.”},{“family”:”Thorne”,”given”:”Avril”},{“family”:”Walker”,”given”:”Marcus Randall”},{“family”:”Freeman”,”given”:”Stephen”},{“family”:”Sloan”,”given”:”Lloyd Reynolds”},”issued”:{“date-parts”:”1976″}}},”schema”:”https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} Cialdini et al. indicated, in support of this, that the tendency to proclaim a connection with a positive person or group of people was strongest when one’s public image was threatened.
Another way in which our thoughts and behaviour is influenced by social identity is the concept of ingroup favouritism. According to research by Tajfel in 1970, in-group bias is a ‘remarkably omnipresent feature of intergroup relations’ ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {“citationID”:”mmbRLulh”,”properties”:{“formattedCitation”:”(Tajfel & Turner, 2004)”,”plainCitation”:”(Tajfel & Turner, 2004)”,”dontUpdate”:true,”noteIndex”:0},”citationItems”:{“id”:36,”uris”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/JGE7TB8G”,”uri”:”http://zotero.org/users/local/oFwl0pow/items/JGE7TB8G”,”itemData”:{“id”:36,”type”:”book”,”title”:”The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior”,”collection-title”:”Political psychology: Key readings”,”publisher”:”Psychology Press”,”publisher-place”:”New York, NY, US”,”number-of-pages”:”276″,”source”:”APA PsycNET”,”event-place”:”New York, NY, US”,”abstract”:”This reprinted chapter originally appeared in (Psychology of Intergroup Relations ed. by S. Worchel; W. G. Austin, 1986, 7-24.) The aim of this chapter is to present an outline of a theory of intergroup conflict and some preliminary data relating to the theory. It begins with a discussion of alternative approaches to intergroup conflict with special attention to the “realistic group conflict theory” (RCT). RCT’s relative neglect of the processes underlying the development and maintenance of group identity and the possibly autonomous effects upon the in-group and intergroup behavior is responsible for some inconsistencies between the empirical data and the theory in its “classical” form. In this sense, the theoretical orientation to be outlined in this chapter is intended not to replace RCT, but to supplement it in some respects that seem essential for an adequate social psychology of intergroup conflict–particularly as the understanding of the psychological aspects of social change cannot be achieved without an appropriate analysis of the social psychology of social conflict. The authors argue that people derive a sense of self-worth and social belongingness from their memberships in groups, and so they are motivated to draw favorable comparisons between their own group and other groups. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)”,”ISBN”:”978-1-84169-069-8″,”author”:{“family”:”Tajfel”,”given”:”Henri”},{“family”:”Turner”,”given”:”John C.”},”issued”:{“date-parts”:”2004″}}},”schema”:”https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} (Tajfel & Turner, 1986).
It is clear that social identity influences our thoughts and behaviour in many ways.

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