Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Social Identity Theory

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_289


Social Identity Theory (SIT; Tajfel, 1978; Tajfel & Turner, 1979) begins with the premise that individuals define their own identities with regard to social groups and that such identifications work to protect and bolster self-identity. The creation of group identities involves both the categorization of one’s “in-group” with regard to an “out-group” and the tendency to view one’s own group with a positive bias vis-a-vis the out-group. The result is an identification with a collective, depersonalized identity based on group membership and imbued with positive aspects (e.g., Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987).


SIT is a classic social psychological theory that attempts to explain intergroup conflict as a function of group-based self-definitions.


Intergroup relations; out-group discrimination; social psychology of groups; group dynamics

Traditional Debates

SIT grew out of Henri Tajfel’s early work, which attempted to apply cognitive grouping...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grenoble Ecole de Management and Insper Institute for Education and ResearchGrenobleFrance