Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 6: Social identity (pp. 187224)

What's it about?

By observing other group members in what they do, we learn what characteristics are associated with groups. Knowledge about group membership is activated by direct reminders of membership, the presence of out-group members, being a minority, and conflict or rivalry between groups.

A group's typical characteristics become norms for one's behavior when seeing oneself as a group member. People evaluate their in-group as more positive than other groups because they are motivated to derive positive self-esteem from their group memberships. In-group favoritism is accompanied by out-group derogation when the in-group feels threatened by an out-group. People perceive the out-group as "all alike". This can be explained by lack of familiarity, the constrained nature of interactions, and the focus on characteristics that make people unique from others.

Awareness of other people's prejudice about the abilities of a group's members causes stereotype threat, which harms performance. Belonging to a negatively stereotyped group also poses a threat to self-esteem. One can defend one's individual self-esteem by using attributions to advantage, and by making the most of intragroup comparisons. When these strategies are insufficient, people may turn to long-term solutions involving individual mobility, social creativity, or social change.

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 6 introduction
  2. Categorizing oneself as a group member
  3. Me, you, and them: Effects of social categorization
  4. When group memberships are negative
  5. Chapter overview (PDF)
  6. Fill-in-the-blanks
  7. Multiple-choice questions