Social Identity Theory

Definition and History

Social identity theory explains how the self-concept is associated with group membership and group and intergroup behavior. It defines group membership in terms of people's identification, definition, and evaluation of themselves as members of a group (social identity) and specifies cognitive, social interactive and societal processes that interact to produce typical group phenomena.

Originating in the work of Henri Tajfel in the late 1960s and collaboration with John Turner in the 1970s, social identity theory has a number of different conceptual foci. The two most significant are the social identity theory of intergroup relations and the social identity theory of the group, the latter called self-categorization theory. Social identity theory has developed to become one of social psychology's most significant and extensively cited analyses ...

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