Towards a Clearer Understanding of Social Identity Theory’s Self-Esteem Hypothesis

Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


Social identity theory proposes that the need for self-esteem motivates group members to protect and enhance the positivity of their group. In this chapter, we explain this self-esteem hypothesis in detail and discuss its caveats and limitations. We also discuss recent work that proposes a dynamic relation between collective self-esteem and group-related outcomes. Based on this discussion, we present a reformulated version of the self-esteem hypothesis that makes more specific predictions than the original. We also broaden the scope of the self-esteem hypothesis by taking into account identity management strategies other than intergroup discrimination. Hence, this chapter moves beyond the blunt question of whether self-esteem motivates intergroup discrimination and instead provides a more nuanced explanation of the various issues that need to be considered when investigating the relation between the need for self-esteem and group behaviour.


Identity management strategies Intergroup discrimination Motivation Self-esteem hypothesis Social identity theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  2. 2.The University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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