Anda di halaman 1dari 13

IB Psychology

Paper 1
Socio-cultural level of analysis
2016-01-13

Social identity theory


(7)
Learning outcome:
Evaluate social identity theory, making
reference to relevant studies
Course Companion: 106-107
Psych wiki: http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Social_Identity_Theory
Videos:
Youtube: Youtube: Born good? Babies help unlock the origins of morality
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRvVFW85IcU (from 7 min) (https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRvVFW85IcU)
Youtube: Group Identity - Ingroup and Outgroup Formation
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga4Zr7P25o0)
Youtube: Identity Theory & Social Identity Theory: Basics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=YcRNQtvOCbc)
Past exam questions:
ERQ: Evaluate social identity theory with reference to relevant studies. Nov 11
ERQ: Evaluate social identity theory. May 13 TZ2
SAQ: Outline social identity theory with reference to one relevant study. May 15

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LEARN?

- Define and explain social identity


- Outline at least 2 studies to support the theory and explain HOW they support SIT (This means that you
could basically learn only Tajfels research, but for higher grades, try to learn Lemyre and Smith as well as
Wetherall. You will need these studies in an ERQ. If you find Tajfels research complicated, learn at least the
definition of SIT and one study to support.)
- Evaluate the studies
- Evaluate SIT
- Make sure you know one study in detail in case you are asked about one study in an SAQ.

TERMINOLOGY
SOCIAL IDENTITY is a sense of who we are, derived from the groups we belong to. (See
explanation on page 4.) The more positive the image of the group is, the more positive will be our
own social identity.

!
!
PERSONAL IDENTITY is the personal characteristics which make each person unique.

SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY (SIT) is a theory according to which an individual


strives to achieve or maintain a positive self-image. According to this theory, people build
their own identities from their group memberships and therefore they want to be part of
groups that are both high in status and have a positive image in order to boost their own
identities. They boost their own identities by making their own groups look better and by
making other groups look worse in comparison.
MINIMAL GROUPS are artificial groups (with nothing real in common). Typical
experiments used to investigate SIT are called minimal group experiments. When people are
arbitrarily and randomly divided into two groups, knowledge of the other groups existence is a
sufficient condition for the development of pro-ingroup and anti-outgroup attitudes. According to
Tajfel, the mere perception of another groups existence can produce discrimination.

IN-GROUPS AND OUT-GROUPS are social groups which an individual feels as though
he or she belongs as a member, or (for out-groups) to which they feel contempt, opposition, or a
desire to compete against. People tend to hold positive attitudes towards members of their own
groups, a phenomenon known as in-group bias. The terms were introduced by Tajfel and Truner
when they proposed SIT.

BRIEF OUTLINES OF STUDIES TO SUPPORT SIT

Tajfel et al. (1979) demonstrated in three experiments that a minimal group (which
means a meaningless group/a group where the members have very little in common) is all
that is necessary for individuals to start discriminating against members of an outgroup. Bristol school boys were divided into random groups and asked to allocate small
amounts of money to the other boys (to boys from their own or the other group) in the
experiment. They gave more money to members of their own group (the so called ingroup) than the members of the other group (called the out-group). In the second
experiment they even tried to maximize the difference, sometimes at their own expense
and in the third experiment they even knew that the groups were randomly chosen.
Group division based on 1. estimating no of dots, 2. preference for painter, 3. toss of a
coin (random)
1

2. Lemyre & Smith, 1985 According to SIT, we discriminate against other groups in

order to boost our own self-esteem. This experiment shows that people do gain selfesteem from discriminating against those from another group. The IV was whether
they go to discriminate or not and the DV was level of self-esteem after. This supports
THE ENHANCED ESTEEM HYPOTHESIS according to which we discriminate to boost
our self-esteem. However, other research has shown that this is very short-lasting and
might not be enough of an explanation.

3. Wetherall, 1982 showed cultural differences in out-group


discrimination (even though many studies show that this is a
behavior that exists in many cultures, across ages and in both
genders. Wetherall showed that in cultures where cooperation
is the norm, people dont discriminate as much against outgroups. She compared white and Polynesian children in New
Zealand.

EVALUATION OF SOCIAL IDENTITY

THEORY

(+) It can explain the minimal group effect (which means that we start discriminating against out-group
members even when we have very little in common with members of the in-group. Just dividing people into
groups makes them discriminate). Use Tajfel to illustrate. The participants are put into minimal groups/
meaningless groups and allocate more points to their own group.
(+) There is considerable support (See studies above and. There are more than two dozen independent
minimal group experiments in several different countries, using a wide range of experimental participants of
both sexes (from young children to adults), essentially the same result has been found: the mere act of
allocating people into arbitrary social categories is sufficient to elicit biased judgments and discriminatory
behaviors.
(-) Much of the support comes from minimal group experiments, which have been criticized because of
artificiality and meaninglessness. On the other hand, if people discriminate against meaningless out-groups,
they are probably even more likely to discriminate against out-groups in real life, that are usually not
meaningless. However, there are other types of studies, such as Castelli, DeAmicis, & Sherman, 2007
(+) Since experiments are used, it is possible to draw conclusions about causes of discrimination. Being
put in a minimal group (IV) causes people to discriminate (DV).
(-) It presents racism (and other forms of prejudice) as natural, helping to justify it. SIT implies that
intergroup hostility is natural and built into our thought-processes, as a consequence of categorization. It is
natural for people to be prejudiced and discriminate against others when they belong to a group.
(-) It tends to be reductionist (does not address the environment that interacts with the self. Cultural
expectations, rewards as motivators, and societal constraints such as poverty may play more of a role in
behavior than ones own sense of in-group identity.
(+) The evidence shows only a positive in-group bias and not derogatory attitudes or behaviors towards the
out-group. Prejudice according to this theory is liking us more than disliking them.
(-) The theory describes but does not always predict behavior. This means that it is a theory that
explains how we should behave against out-group members when we belong to an in-group, but this type of
behavior does not always happen.
(-) The theory tends to be reductionist (It does not address the environment that interacts with the self.
Cultural expectations, rewards as motivators, and societal constraints such as poverty may play more of a
role in behavior than ones own sense of in-group identity.
(-) There are factors that influence how likely negative feelings towards out-group members are to occur.
Negative feelings towards out-group members or prejudice, are more likely to occur when
individuals draw a large sense of identity from their group membership, this identity is threatened,
and there is a conflict between the in group and the out-group. Negative feelings about those in-group
members who had positive interactions with out-group members were decreased when an external and
powerful figure, such as a teacher was present to create contact between the in-group and the out-group.
Respected external figures that do not attempt to control all interactions may help foster more positive intergroup contact
(-,+) One ethical limitation of Tajfels original studies to support SIT, is the use of children in research. They
boys in this study were 14 and 15 years old. Also, deception was used since the boys were not told the true
aim of the experiment. They were deceived into thinking that they were divided into groups based on
estimation and the preference of a painter, but they were actually randomly divided in experiment 1 and 2.
However, the study involved minimal deception and no real harm to the participants, so the study could be
described as ethical.
(+) Dispositional factors seem to influence. For example, research has shown that competitive individuals
(Platow et al. 1990). They showed greater in-group favoritism than cooperative individuals.

SOCIAL IDENTITY
Social identity is a sense of who we are, derived from the groups we belong to. Each of us has
several social identities, corresponding to different groups with which we identify.
The more positive the image of the group, the more positive will be our own social identity and
hence our self-image.
Positive image of a group positive social identity positive self-image
By emphasizing the desirability of the in-group(s) and focusing on those distinctions, which enable
our own group to come out on top, we help to create for ourselves a satisfactory social identity. It
can be done through discrimination (like in Tajfels experiment). But putting other groups down or
by discriminating against them, our own group comes out on top, which increases our positive selfimage.

SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY


Social identity theory is a theory that tries to explain how social categorization affects intergroup
behaviors. According to this theory, people build their own identities from their group memberships
and therefore they want to be part of groups that are both high status and have a positive image in
order to boost their own identities. They boost their own identities by making their own groups look
better and by making other groups look worse in comparison.
So, the theory proposes that
a. People allocate themselves to groups and gain their identity from those groups.
b. People need to feel good about themselves and, therefore seek positive self-esteem
c. People will want to feel they are in the best group and will, therefore, act to make it so,
even if that means putting other groups down.
Individuals strive to improve their self-image by trying to enhance their self-esteem, based on
either personal identity or various social identities. This means that people can boost their selfesteem through personal achievement or through affiliation with successful groups, and it
indicates the importance of social belonging. (Remember that one of the principles of the sociocultural level of analysis is that people have a need to belong.)
Social identity theory is based on the cognitive process of social categorization. The theory
has been used to explain social phenomena such as ethnocentrism, in-group favoritism,
stereotyping, and conformity to in-group norms.
By linking ourselves to successful others and distancing ourselves from unsuccessful
others we can boost our self-images (e.g. Cialdini et al., 1976) These strategies reveal that selfimage is influenced by more than just a sense of ourselves as individuals. Rather, self-image is
also influenced by our social identity-by our opinions of, and feelings about, the social
groups with which we identify.
The observation that social identities contribute to self-esteem forms the foundation of
social identity theory (Tajfel and Turner, 1986). Just as individuals manage their personal
identities by comparing themselves to other individuals, people manage their social
identities by comparing their groups to other groups. Specifically, by positively
differentiating your group from other groups-by engaging in downward social comparison,
seeing your group as better than them-you can create a positive social identity, which in
turn can increase your sense of self-worth (e.g. Hunter, Platow, Howard, & Stringer, 1996). To
create this positive differentiation, you might
- Directly enhance your own group, perhaps through positive stereotypes,
- Derogate other groups, thereby making your own group look positive in contrast (Cialdini &
Richardson, 1980). For example, you might discriminate against your out-group by taking away its
opportunities, thus giving your group a real advantage. Or, by exaggerating the in-groups favorable
characteristics, by labeling the out-groups with strong negative stereotypes.

Tajfel and Turner (1979) proposed that there are three mental processes involved in
evaluating others as us or them (i.e. in-group and out-group. These take
place in a particular order.
The first is categorization. We categorize objects in order to understand them and identify
them. In a very similar way we categorize people (including ourselves) in order to
understand the social environment. We use social categories like black, white, Australian,
Christian, Muslim, student, and bus driver because they are useful.
If we can assign people to a category then that tells us things about those people, and as
we saw with the bus driver example we couldn't function in a normal manner without using
these categories; i.e. in the context of the bus. Similarly, we find out things about
ourselves by knowing what categories we belong to. We define appropriate behavior by
reference to the norms of groups we belong to, but you can only do this if you can tell who
belongs to your group. An individual can belong to many different groups.
In the second stage, social identification, we adopt the identity of the group we have
categorized ourselves as belonging to. If for example you have categorized yourself as a
student, the chances are you will adopt the identity of a student and begin to act in the
ways you believe students act (and conform to the norms of the group). There will be an
emotional significance to your identification with a group, and your self-esteem will become
bound up with group membership.
The final stage is social comparison. Once we have categorized ourselves as part of a
group and have identified with that group we then tend to compare that group with other
groups. If our self-esteem is to be maintained our group needs to compare favorably with
other groups. This is critical to understanding prejudice, because once two groups identify
themselves as rivals they are forced to compete in order for the members to maintain their
self-esteem. Competition and hostility between groups is thus not only a matter of
competing for resources (like in Sherifs Robbers Cave) like jobs but also the result of
competing identities.

STUDIES TO SUPPORT SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY


Tajfel et al., 1971, 1973
The studies show that, when people are arbitrarily and randomly divided into two
groups, knowledge of the other groups existence is a sufficient condition for the
development of pro-in-group and anti-out-group attitudes. These artificial groups
are known as minimal groups.
Categorizing people as members of an in-group and an out-group is necessary before
discrimination can occur. The very act of categorization produces conflict and
discrimination (making it also a sufficient condition).
Method: Three lab experiments
Aim: to show that people who belong to a group-or, even more interestingly, when people
are randomly assigned to a group (even if they know about the random assignment), they
automatically think of that group as their in-group (us) and all others as an out-group
(them) and they will show in-group favoritism, and discrimination against the out-group.
The individuals self-esteem is maintained by social comparison (by comparing themselves
to the other group and trying to make their own group look better).

Participants: 14-15-year-old Bristol school boys (They were from the same school and
knew each other, but they did not know who was in their own or the other group.
Procedure: Firstly, the researchers created artificial groups (called minimal groups), which
was done differently in the three different experiments. In the two first ones, the boys did
not know that the groups were random. In the third they did.
Experiment 1: Participants were divided into random groups, but they thought they were
divided based on whether they overestimated or underestimated the number of dots on
several screens:

!
Please, estimate the number of dont on the screen! You are an under-estimator/ overestimator.
Experiment 2: 48 14-15 year old schoolboys, previously acquainted with each other were
tested in three groups of sixteen at a time and asked whether they preferred Klee or
Kandinsky. Then they were divided into random groups , but they thought they were
divided based on whether they preferred paintings by Klee or Kandinsky:

!
Klee

Kandinsky

Experiment 3: Participants were divided into random groups, and they knew it because they were
told they would be divided into random groups based on the toss of a coin:

They were then asked to give rewards of real money to the other boys in the experiment.
They did not know the identity of the boys they were giving money to but only which group they
were in. This means that they did not know whom they were giving money to. They only knew
which group the boy they were giving money to belonged to, their own (the in-group) or the
other group (the out-group)
Each boy was given booklet with sets of numbers (matrixes) and asked to choose a pair of
numbers that would allocate money to two other boys. So, for each set below, the participant
would have to choose a pair of numbers. For example, if they picked the circled set below (12/3), a
boy from the in-group would receive 12 and the boy from the out-group would receive 3. The
booklet they received contained several sets like the one below and several types of choices:

!
The boys made three kinds of choices:
1. In-group choices (They had to decide how much money to divide between two
boys in their own group/the in-group.)
You are an over-estimator. Allocate points by choosing a pair of numbers.
Rewards for
1
2
3
4
5
6
6
8
member 12 of
over-estimators
Rewards for
20
44
78
1
88
3
6
2
member 6 of
over-estimators

88

46

2. Out-group choices (They had to decide how much money to divide between two
boys in the out-group)
You are an over-estimator. Allocate points by choosing a pair of numbers.
Rewards for
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
member 7of underestimator
Rewards for
55
37
2
1
8
3
88
3
member 4 of
under-estimators

11

12

13

41

11

11

3. Intergroup choices (decided how much money to divide between one boy in
each group, where one row referred to the boys own group and one row
referred to the other group)
You are an over-estimator. Allocate points by choosing a pair of numbers.
Rewards for
2
8
1
6
3
9
2
0
member 9of overestimators
Rewards for
1
4
2
9
4
7
2
8
member 2 of
under-estimators

44

35

77

56

44

66

77

24

678

Lastly, the researchers investigated the effects of being put in a minimal groups. They calculated
how much money was allocated to in- and out-groups.

Results:

- Most boys gave more money to their own group in all three experiments. This is the main result
of Tajfels research.
- In experiment 2 (the experiment with the paintings), it was shown that the participants even went
for maximum difference (which is giving the largest difference to the in-and out-groups) as
opposed to maximum joint profit or largest possible reward to in-group. This means that we might
be more concerned with giving as little as possible to out-groups that we are with giving as much
as possible to our own group. So, in the case of the experiment with the painters, participants did
not make sure that their own group got as much money as possible, but made sure that the
difference between the groups was as large as possible (even if that meant that their own group
would get less. In experiment three, the boys knew they groups were not real groups but random
groups, and still gave more money to their in-group.
- In experiment 3, they also allocated more money to the in-group and this was the only
experiment where the participants knew they had been put in artificial groups by the flip of a coin.
Conclusion: (with an explicit link to the experiments used as evidence):
The mere perception of another groups existence can produce discrimination, which is
shown in the experiments above since participants gave more money to their own group as soon

as they were put in minimal groups/artificial groups). This shows that out-group discrimination
is extraordinarily easy to trigger even when we know that groups are meaningless and
randomly created. In this case, in all three experiments the groups were so called minimal
groups, which means they were meaningless and the participants did not really know who was in
each group. They only knew that they were part of a group. In the third experiment they even knew
that the groups were meaningless and they still discriminated against the out-group.). HIS
EXPERIMENTS SHOW THAT INTERGROUP DISCRIMINATION CAN OCCUR WITHOUT
CONFLICT.

Evaluation of Tajfels research (which is used to support SIT):


(+) These are very influential studies in the study of intergroup processes. These were the first
experiments and the results were surprising and they created interest in the phenomenon, which
lead many other researchers to continue investigating this phenomenon.
(+) The results from these studies contributed to the development of SIT, since many other
researchers continued investigating the phenomenon. For example, the theory claims that people
discriminate against the out-group in order to gain self-esteem. This was investigated by Lemyre
and Smith (see below) and their experiment showed that our self-esteem is elevated when we
discriminate against an out-group.
(-, +) These experiments were conducted with young boys from England (=culture and age bias),
but a large number of cross-cultural studies support the results, using all ages. This means that the
phenomenon is not culture and age biased.
(-) On the other hand, there are cultures where the effect is not inevitable. Wetherall showed that
there are cultural differences. Polynesian children in New Zeeland were much more generous
towards the out-group than white children (since their cultural norms reflect cooperation in that
culture. This is a so-called collectivist culture. See this handout in order to be able to explain. See
explanation of study below.)
(-) Many studies used to support SIT, such as Tajfels research, lack ecological validity since lab
experiments were used with artificial and meaningless tasks. The experimental set-up is so far
from natural behavior that it can be questioned whether it reflects how people would react in real
life. This could limit the predictive value of the theory, meaning that it is difficult to predict how
people would react in real life situations based on results from these experiments. On the other
hand, in real life, groups are often more meaningful, and one could guess that the effect is even
larger. (-) The experiments have been criticized of demand characteristics since the boys might
have interpreted the task as a competitive game. If the boys think it is a game and not a real
situation, this is a problem and might confound the results.
(+) Since experiments were used, we can draw the conclusion that creating minimal groups causes
discrimination, since cause and effect can be inferred.
(-) One ethical limitation was that deception was use. Participants were told it was a study of
visual judgment. This is a problem because ethical guidelines were not followed. (+) However,
this was done to avoid demand characteristics e.g. having the boys figure out the true aim of the
experiment.

THEORY TO EXPLAIN SIT:


THE ENHANCED (=improved) ESTEEM HYPOTHESIS

is a
theory which could explain WHY we discriminate against out-groups). Remember to
use the study below if you are asked to explain SIT, since this means you have to talk
about the reason behind. Also, if an ERQ asks you to examine, you need to write about
the assumptions behind.

Lemyre & Smith, 1985 According to SIT, we discriminate against other groups
in order to boost our own self esteem. This study shows that people do gain selfesteem from discriminating against those from another group.
Method: lab experiment

IV: whether participants who were all categorized, could distribute awards to in-group and
out-group (i.e. they could discriminate against the out-group compared to their in-group)
or only between two in-group or two out-group. This means that one group had the
opportunity to discriminate, while the other group didnt.
DV: distribution of rewards to in-group or out-group was measured
Aim: to investigate the influence of discrimination (which was the IV, since one group of
participants got the opportunity to discriminate, while the other did not) on self-esteem (DV,
since the level of self-esteem was measured).
Procedure:
- Participants were categorized into groups
- One group of participants got the opportunity to discriminate against the out-group and
one was not.
- Self-esteem was measured afterwards.
Results: The participants who had the opportunity to discriminate displayed higher selfesteem
Conclusion: When we have an opportunity to discriminate against an out-group, our selfesteem is increased.
Evaluation:
(+) This experiment supports the hypothesis that discrimination against the out-group
enhances self-esteem, (-) but there is evidence against it as well. Hogg and Sunderland
(1991), also using an artificial categorization technique, found no effects of
discrimination on self-esteem. So, the evidence is inconclusive.
(+) However, more recent studies have shown more consistent support for the
enhanced esteem hypothesis when using real social groups (gender, nationality). This
suggests that self-esteem may be elevated only when the groups are meaningful/real.
(+) Since it was an experiment, we can conclude that discrimination against the outgroup causes higher self-esteem.
(-) Some claim that the effects on self-esteem are short-lived to have long-lasting effects.

CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS IN SIT


Tajfels original experiments were conducted with young boys from England (=culture and
age bias), but a large number of cross-cultural studies support the results, using
different ages and different cultures. This means that the phenomenon is not culture
or age biased. It could be considered a so called etic (see handout 15). But there is
evidence of cultural differences:
There are cultures where the effect is not inevitable. Wetherall showed that Polynesian
children in New Zealand were much more generous towards the out-group than white
children (since their cultural norms reflect cooperation in that culture. When we have
covered individualism and collectivism you will be able to explain that in your answer.

Wetherall, 1982 shows cultural differences in out-group discrimination. In cultures


where cooperation is the norm, people dont discriminate as much against out-groups
Aim: To investigate cultural differences in out-group discrimination
Participants: White and Polynesian children in New Zealand
Results: The Polynesians where much more generous towards the out-group
Conclusion: Out-group conflict isnt inevitable. In cultures where cooperation is the norm
(collectivist cultures, such as among Polynesians in New Zealand), people dont
discriminate as much against out-groups.
Sample answer

SAMPLE ANSWER
Socio-cultural level of analysis
(7) Social identity theory

ERQ:
Discuss social identity theory, making reference to relevant studies
Social identity theory is a theory that proposes that people allocate themselves to groups and gain their identity from
those groups and that people need to feel good about themselves and, therefore seek positive self-esteem. People will
want to feel they are in the best group and will, therefore, act to make it so, even if that means putting other groups
down. This is a very useful theory for explaining behaviors such as in-group favoritism, conformity to in-group norms,
stereotyping and discrimination. It can be illustrated and evaluated through the research of Tajfel (1971, 1973) and
others.
Individuals strive to improve their self-image by trying to enhance their self-esteem, based on either personal identity or
various social identities. This means that people can boost their self-esteem through personal achievement or through
being connected with successful groups, and it indicates the importance of social belonging. According to one
of the principles of the socio-cultural level of analysis, humans are social animals and have the need to belong.

Social identity is a sense of who we are, derived from the groups we belong to. Each of us has several social identities,
corresponding to different groups with which we identify. The more positive the image of the group, the more positive will
be our own social identity and hence our self-image. By emphasizing the desirability of our in-group(s) and focusing
on those differences, which enable our own group to come out on top, we help to create for ourselves a satisfactory
social identity. It can be done through discrimination (like in Tajfels experiment)
Social identity theory is based on the cognitive process of social categorization. By linking ourselves to
successful others and distancing ourselves from unsuccessful others we can boost our self-images. These
strategies reveal that self-image is influenced by more than just a sense of ourselves as individuals. Rather, self-image
is also influenced by our social identity-by our opinions of, and feelings about, the social groups with which we
identify.
The observation that social identities contribute to self-esteem forms the foundation of social identity theory. Just as
individuals manage their personal identities by comparing themselves to other individuals, people manage their social
identities by comparing their groups to other groups. Specifically, by positively differentiating your group from other
groups-by engaging in downward social comparison, seeing your group as better than them-you can create a positive
social identity, which in turn can increase your sense of self-worth To create this positive differentiation, you might directly
enhance your own group, perhaps through positive stereotypes or derogate other groups, thereby making your own
group look positive in contrast. For example, you might discriminate against your out-group by taking away its
opportunities, thus giving your group a real advantage.
Tajfel et al. conducted research in the 70s using so called minimal group experiments. The studies show that, when
people are arbitrarily and randomly divided into two groups, knowledge of the other groups existence is a sufficient
condition for the development of pro-in-group and anti-out-group attitudes as well as discrimination. In these
experiments, participants have never seen those who are said to belong to the same group as themselves. These
artificial groups are known as minimal groups, since they, unlike real-life groups, have very little (a minimum) in common.
Tajfel et al. wanted to show that people who belong to a group-or, even more interestingly, when people are randomly
assigned to a group (and they know about the random assignment), they automatically think of that group as their ingroup (us) and all others as an out-group (them). And they will show in-group favoritism, and discrimination against the
out-group. The individuals self-esteem is maintained by social comparison (by comparing themselves to the other
group).
In the original experiments, participants were 14-15-year-old Bristol schoolboys. The researchers created artificial
groups by randomly dividing the boys but led the boys to believe that the groups were divided by having them estimate
the number of dots on a screen, or by their preference for paintings by Klee or Kandinsky. Once they were even divided
by the toss of a coin, which means that the boys even knew that the groups were random. They were then asked to give
rewards of real money to the other boys in the experiment who either belonged to their own or the other group. They did
not know the identity of the boys they were giving money to but only which group they were in. Results showed that
most boys gave more money to their own group. In the experiment with the artists, it was shown that the participants
even went for maximum difference (which is giving the largest difference to the in-and out-groups) as opposed to
maximum joint profit or largest possible reward to in-group. The conclusion was that the mere perception of another
groups existence can produce discrimination, in this case by giving more money to your own group. Participants did not
even make sure that their own group got as much money as possible, but made sure that the difference between the
groups was as large as possible (even if that meant that their own group would get less). This shows that out-group
discrimination is extraordinarily easy to trigger even when people dont know the group members or have a
strong sense of belonging to the group, as we often do in real life.
One ethical limitation of these particular studies is deception since participants were told it was a study of visual
judgment. On the other hand, this was necessary because if the boys had known the true aim, they would have
changed their behavior. These experiments have also been criticized of demand characteristics since the boys might
have interpreted the task as a competitive game.
One factor influencing is culture
One factor influencing out-gorup conflict is culture. A large number of cross-cultural studies support the results,
using all ages but out-group conflict is not inevitable. In one experiment, Wetherall (1982) showed that there are
cultural differences in out-group discrimination. In cultures where cooperation is the norm, people dont seem to
discriminate as much against out-groups. Polynesian children in New Zeeland were much more generous towards the
out-group than white children (since their cultural norms reflect cooperation in that culture).
One important factor in determining the validity of the theory is methods used when investigating it
Minimal group experiments have been criticized of lack of ecological validity since lab experiments were used with
artificial and meaningless tasks like the task of allocating points in Tajfels lab, This is very unlike a real-life
situation. On the other hand, when people belong to real groups and have a stronger sense of belonging to the group,
one could perhaps expect even higher levels of discrimination. Tajfels experiment showed a strong preference for the ingroup even when the participants didnt know who was part of their group.
Social identity theory is still a very influential theory and these experiments have contributed to the development of
SIT.
A hypothesis stating WHY we tend to discriminate against out-groups.

It has been said that people behave like this in order to improve their self-esteem, and there is evidence that this might
be the case, even though there is evidence against this as well. Lemyre & Smith, 1985 wanted to investigate the
influence of discrimination on self-esteem and showed that people gain self-esteem from discriminating against those
from other groups by conducting a lab experiment where the independent variable was whether participants who were all
divided into groups, could distribute awards to their in-group and out-group (i.e. they could discriminate against the outgroup compared to their in-group) or only between two in-group or two out-group. This means that one group had the
opportunity to discriminate, while the other group didnt. They wanted to see if the group that discriminated would
improve their self-esteem. Results showed that the participants who had the opportunity to discriminate displayed
higher self-esteem, which supports the self-esteem explanation for out-group discrimination.
In conclusion, SIT can explain the minimal group effect and there is considerable support for the theory and it
continues to be very influential in psychology. There is also cross-cultural support, but studies show that cooperative
cultures tend to be more generous towards out-groups. One explanation for out-group discrimination may be to improve
self-esteem. A limitation of SIT is that much of the support comes from artificial minimal group experiments and it is
influenced by cultural factors.
Word count: 1463

Markschemes:
Nov11: Evaluate social identity theory with reference to relevant studies. [22 marks] Refer to the paper 1 section B

assessment criteria when awarding marks. The command term evaluate requires candidates to make an appraisal of
the social identity theory by weighing up the strengths and limitations of this theory. Although a discussion of both
strengths and limitations is required, it does not have to be evenly balanced to gain high marks. Social identity theory is
based on the assumption that the most important feature of peoples attempt to make sense of the social world is in
classification of groups as us and them. Psychologically, this means making a distinction between in-groups (groups
that we belong to) and out-groups (groups that we do not belong to). According to Tajfel, people develop norms of
behaviour towards in-groups and out-groups. Responses may refer to Tajfels studies, Sherifs Robbers Cave, Cialdini et
al. or any other relevant studies on inter-group behaviour and social categorization. Studies may support or contest the
theory as long as the focus is on the evaluation of social identity theory. Evaluation could consider: methodological
considerations of research studies, the effectiveness of the theory in explaining and predicting group behaviour, social
identity theory is a reductionist approach to explaining group behaviour, the applications of the theory, for example in
education, crowd control, or in the workplace. If a candidate addresses only strengths or only limitations, the response
should be awarded up to a maximum of [5 marks] for critical thinking and up to a maximum of [2 marks] for organization.
Up to full marks may be awarded for knowledge and comprehension.

May 13: Evaluate social identity theory. Refer to the paper 1 section B assessment criteria when awarding marks. The
command term evaluate requires candidates to make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations of
social identity theory. Although a discussion of both strengths and limitations is required, it does not have to be evenly
balanced to gain high marks. Responses may refer to Tajfels studies, Sherif et al.s Robbers Cave study (1961), Cialdini
et al.s studies or any other relevant studies on intergroup behaviour and social categorization. Studies may be used to
support or contest the theory as long as the focus of the response is on the evaluation of social identity theory, and not
just on the evaluation of the studies. Responses that only evaluate the studies and not the theory directly should receive
no more than mid-range marks for criterion B, critical thinking. Evaluation may include, but is not limited to:
methodological considerations of research studies, the effectiveness of the theory in explaining and predicting group
behaviour, biological support (for example, Fiske's fMRI studies), social identity theory as a reductionist approach to
explaining group behaviour, applications of the theory; for example, in education, crowd control or in
the workplace. If a candidate discusses only strengths or only limitations, the response should be awarded up to a
maximum of [5 marks] for criterion B, critical thinking, and up to a maximum of [2 marks] for criterion C, organization. Up
to full marks may be awarded for criterion A, knowledge and comprehension.