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Social Identity theory says how people sees themselves based on the group in which they are part of. Formulated by Henry Tajfel and John Turner in 70s, explains the self-concept perceived by the individuals due to the membership in a particular group. The theory explains a way in which the intergroup behaviour befalls.


Social Identity theory calculates certain intergroup behaviour on the root of professed status, credibility, legitimacy and permeability. The term social identity used to explain human social selves in contrast with this theory. The interpersonal behaviour will be largely influenced by the intergroup behaviour. The major assumption of this theory is that the individuals will have the tendency to achieve and maintain a positive self-distinctiveness, which will be highly motivated by the membership in a group. Individuals of varying interpersonal behaviour will be defined by their social identities. So the individuals in a group will have a tendency to achieve and maintain a social identity. The tendency to achieve and maintain the positive self-distinctiveness is a matter of debate.

Positive self-distinctiveness strategies

Social Identity theory details certain strategies which appeal in order to achieve and maintain the described positive self-distinctiveness. The group status hierarchy and the permeability of the boundaries plays major role in the choice of strategies. The strategies are listed below, these strategies must be viewed from the point of a low status group member who wants to acquire high status in the particular group.

1. Individual Mobility

In a group in which the chance of change of status for the individuals is high the individuals may engage individual mobility strategies rather than their group to achieve self-distinctiveness. This will result in the decline in motivation for acquiring group objectives. The members of the group will be working to achieve their interpersonal goals.

2. Social Creativity

In a group, where the status relationships are more stable and the boundaries are set the individuals are predicted to engage towards the achievement of social creativity behaviour. And the low status group members can still acquire their positive self-distinctiveness. This can be achieved by comparing the behaviour of the individual with behavioural pattern of the group.

3. Social Competition

The individuals seek positive self-distinctiveness by direct competition with the group. This strategy is applicable when the boundaries are permeable and the statuses of the group members comparatively are unstable. This strategy emphasis on the process of identity management of the members of the group.


Consider a football match, all the members in the team are playing to achieving the common objective of winning the game. As a team they have definite boundaries and as members of the team they have their own objectives to achieve because the status of the individual players varies from higher level to lower level based on their performances. According to Social Identity Theory the individual group members may formulate strategies to increase their status. In the field, the individual players may perform to attain the high status rather than accomplishing the common objective of the group.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • David Sheets January 8, 2016, 8:55 am

    The explanation of social identity theory was a very small aspect of the conceptualization of the ideals associated with the theory. For example, an individual will perceive of an affiliation to membership within a group of similar interest and characteristics. When addressed as an individual, the person will interpret and respond according to how the implication affects the group. The perspective of in-group/out-group addresses issues of unionization, school yard bullying, parents versus children, etc. The theory is a hybrid between the initial social identity component and social categorization. As an individual, a person does not neglect associated interest or membership with those of similar world perceptions.

  • Abdemageed Muhammed October 7, 2018, 6:39 pm

    This theory give the individual’s ability to explain himself among groups

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