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Group Functioning and Social Psychology. Social Identity Theory. Social Identity defined… Social identity is the individual’s self-concept derived from perceived membership of social groups (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002)

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social identity theory
Social Identity Theory

Social Identity defined…

Social identity is the individual’s self-concept derived from perceived membership of social groups (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002)

“How personal reality is constructed from social reality.” Sullivan and Johns, 2002, Social Work Education, 21(2).

what are your social identities
What are your social identities?

How important is each of these to your identity?

How do these identities influence your experience in various settings?

How do these identities influence how you feel and what you think about yourself?

If these identities represent your ingroups, how do you feel about the corresponding outgroups?

premises of social identity theory
Premises of Social Identity Theory

People are motivated to maintain a positive self-concept

Group identity contributes to positive self-concept

We develop a positive group identity through comparison of our group with others, i.e. ingroup/outgroup dynamic

influences on degree of ingroup favoritism
Influences on degree of ingroup favoritism
  • Degree of identification with the group
  • Extent of social comparison, how salient are the differences, how reinforced by social context
  • Relevance or significance of the comparison between one’s ingroup and an outgroup
article discussion
Article Discussion
  • Key terms
    • Implicit Person Theory – what sense do we make of human attributes? What is our “go-to” explanation for others’ behaviors?
      • Entity
      • Incremental
    • Essentialist Beliefs
      • Sense making which suggests that groups are fixed entities
        • The group is “immutable,” or fixed
        • Shared characteristics are core to the members and confer identity
        • A is “real,” a material reality and responsible for human characteristics.

Reify – To consider something that is intangible to be a concrete entity.

important findings
Important findings

Non immigrants with essentialist beliefs:

have more negative bias towards members of outgroups.

see members of other groups as homogenous.

show less support for services to immigrants.

prefer that immigrants assimilate.

have less contact with immigrants.

important findings cont
Important findings, cont.

Immigrants with essentialist beliefs:

are less inclined to use their newer social identity as a guide to behavior.

rely on social identity more for understanding self in comparison with others (entity theorists).

immigrant identity
Immigrant identity
  • Two key questions:
    • Is maintenance of one’s ethnic/cultural identity important to the individual?
    • Are relationships to the new culture and representations of it important?
  • Four possible outcomes:
    • Yes and Yes: Integration
    • Yes and No: Separation
    • No and Yes: Assimilation
    • No and No: Marginalization
social identities of our clients
Social Identities of our clients
  • Previously, when we discussed prejudice, we identified many client groups that experience a great deal of prejudice…
    • Immigrants
    • Felons
    • Homeless people
    • People with disabilities
    • Youth or older adults
    • LGBTQ
    • People of color
    • Low income or poor people
    • Addict
how are client groups hindered by social identity

Can we generalize the findings from the study to client groups?

Power differences may be highlighted.

They may accept a negative social identity and be subject to self-fulfilling prophecy.

Loss of social identity can create too much imbalance, preventing change.

how can we use social identity theory to help client groups
  • Acknowledgement of the power of the previous or existing social identity.
  • Creation and strengthening of positive social identities.
    • How do you create a sense of group identity?
  • Empowerment through social identity.
  • Balancing of the gains associated with a new identity with strengths of the previous identity.
  • Recognition of the losses that occur with relinquishing a previous identity.
ingroup rejection among women
Ingroup rejection among women…

Key terms and concepts

False consciousness…also known as internalized sexism

Just world belief

Personal inadequacy

High self-esteem and ingroup favoritism = + correlation

Ingroup homogeneity

The model

Personal inadequacy  Feelings of hostility abouse self  Projection onto women, i.e. hostility  Poor friend relationships and victim blaming

why does this matter
why does this matter?

Correlations with hostility toward women

Positive correlation

Emotional dependence on men

Negative correlation

Personal self-esteem

Collective self-esteem

Perceived similarity

Life satisfaction


Sexual happiness

Emotional, recreational, intellectual and social intimacy with partner

some observations
some observations…

Relationship between self esteem and ingroup favoritism or rejection

Hostility + tendency to stereotype + personal inadequacy = victim blaming

Implications of hostility toward women and victim blaming?

For counselors

For clients

For human services policy makers

For ???

write a true or false statement about being part of a group
Write a true or false statement about being part of a group.

For example,

Groups are difficult because there’s always a power struggle among the members.


Being part of a group makes for a richer experience.

what contributes to these dynamics
What contributes to these dynamics?

Personality characteristics

Motivations for being in the group

Thoughts, feelings and expectations related to the group or groups in general

Laws, policies, procedures

Identification with the group, i.e. social identity





conflict an inevitable part of groups
Conflict-an inevitable part of groups

Be aware of how you respond to conflict.

Become aware of its occurrence and step back.

Consider the source of conflict-

Power struggle

Frustration at power holders

Conflicting goals or priorities

Personal dislike

Differences in worldview/cultural differences

Destructive individual styles

problematic personal styles
Problematic Personal Styles
  • Aggressor-nonproductive criticism
  • Blocker
  • Recognition seeker
  • Self confessor (irrelevant personal info)
  • Dominator-manipulative, controlling
  • Emotional support seeker-
effective management of conflict
Effective management of conflict

Philosophy of inclusion – enhance the ingroup effect.

Assume the best about others’ intentions

One best path doesn’t make other paths wrong-sometimes

Group work isn’t about winning or losing

Agree on consensus vs. democratic vs. dictator approach to decision making

Construct positive beliefs about conflict

Self-regulation and shared responsibility

some scenarios what might be going on what can you do
Some scenarios-what might be going on? What can you do?

A group member has twice not followed through on what she said she would do. She also missed one of the meetings, and then complained about a decision made at that meeting.

Two people in a your staffing group of five frequently get into what the others describe as shouting matches. The two seem to get over it and move on, but two of the others are so uncomfortable that they want to leave when it’s happening and fear getting yelled at, so they don’t speak up.

You and several co-workers are concerned about unethical practices at your agency. It’s bad enough that you all agree that you need to do something. One person insists on a confrontational approach and seems unwilling to consider anything else. Each time you get together to discuss the situation, she ends up making her case in a way that makes sense. Ultimately, though, no one but her is willing to take a confrontational approach. You are worried that nothing will happen as a result of this impasse.

What did you notice about how you discussed the situation?

What did people say/do that might prevent resolution of the conflict?

What did people say/do that will facilitate resolution?

interpersonal dynamics in groups
Interpersonal dynamics in groups

What helps a group function effectively?

How does conflict affect the group?

How can you respond effectively to conflict?

characteristics of effective groups
Characteristics of Effective Groups

There are many, here are just a few:

Full participation

Mutual understanding

Inclusive solutions

Shared responsibility

develop an activity
Develop an activity

Imagine you are working with a group of clients and you want to build a positive social identity.

What is this social identity? What is it called, what are its characteristics, who is part of it?

Design a group activity that strengthens the members’ social identity in a positive way. Help them -

Identify with the group

Internalize the identity

Be ready to explain how social psych concepts are relevant.