Why Do We Seek Strength in Numbers: Social Identity Theory
Social Identity Theory
Man is a social animal. Our sense of identity stems from belonging to a group. We often compare our group with others in order to sharpen our sense of identity.
Social identity is separate from personal identity, which is formed by personal attributes and individual relationships.
Social Identity at Work
If you have ever travelled to a place or country, which is completely different from your own, you may have noticed that you feel your sense of national belonging far more keenly than usual. If you have been lucky enough to find another person from your homeland, you will surely band together in order to adhere to your sense of national identity. In this case, this national identity is your social identity where you feel you belong to a particular nation of people.
Social identity Theory and Prejudice
|Like we tend to group together according to this social psychology principle, we also tend to discriminate against other groups. This discrimination helps us enhance our self-image.|
Flocking together brings out the worst in us because we discriminate by trying to identity the negative aspects of the other groups, to improve ours. This gives rise to prejudiced views. For example, prejudiced views against a certain nationality can result in a racist bias.
Why we categorize people?
Social identity theory is one of the psychological theories that primarily deals with the categorization of people to better orient ourselves in our social environment. We use social categories like black, white, Asian, Christian, etc. because these labels help us assemble people into a reasonable grouping.
Similarly, we become aware of ourselves by of knowing what our own category is. The norms of society like in terms of behavior are decided by this categorization. It is important to note that an individual may belong to multiple groups or categories.
This aspect of social psychology is critical in understanding the root cause of prevailing prejudice. If groups identify themselves as rivals, they are bound to lock heads to boost their own self-esteem. It is absolutely fine to have a sense of social identity. Just ensure that you choose the groups you belong to with care.