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Social Identity Theory

Terms in this set (11)

Cialdini et al. (1976)

Introduce study:

This can be seen in a study by Cialdini et al. (1976).


To investigate the tendency to associate one"s self publicly with successful others, referred to as "basking in reflected glory" (BIRG).

Method A:

Fans from large U.S. prestigious football universities were participants in a field experiment (in large lecture halls across 7 different schools) where they observed student clothing/apparel on a Monday following a big football game.

Results A:

Students tended to wear more apparel associating themselves with their own university (e.g. jersey or sweatshirt) when the football team won compared to when they lost.

Method B:

Based on these findings, researchers decided to call students and interview them about the performance of their schools football team following a game.

Results B:

People tended to use the pronoun "we" more to describe their team when they won and "they" more when the team had lost.
In some experiments, researchers manipulated the feelings of the participants via distraction tasks and giving positive/negative feedback.
The researchers were able to show that people tend to associate with positive others most closely when their own public image is threatened.


Demonstrates that people seek a positive social identity and that their social identity is affected by being a part of their group so that you are more positive towards anything that your own group represents.
Membership to a social group affects the behaviour of an individual.

Connection of study to question

This study supports the SIT as it demonstrated the concept of social identity.
People"s self-image was affected by their in-group in that the victory gave a sense of "positive- distinctiveness" for the group and therefore enhanced self-esteem.
Introduce study --> link to question:

Tajfel found that when people are randomly assigned to a group - either by the flip of a coin, the drawing of a coin, the drawing of a number from a hat, or by preference for a previously unknown artist - they see themselves as being similar in attitude and behaviour + automatically think of that group as their in-group and all others as an out-group, therefore a bond is formed among group members, even if they did not know each other before their assignment to the group.


To demonstrate the minimal group paradigm in creating in group bias


Schoolboys from Bristol were randomly allocated into groups (though they were told it was off a basis for a preference of artwork for Kandinsky or Klee).
Told they were participating in a decision making experiment
They individually assigned points based off a matrix to their group or another group.
They were allowed no face to face contact or communication.


Boys tended to favour ingroup members over outgroup members (ingroup favouritism)
Boys maximised differences between groups (category accentuation effect), even if it was potentially disadvantageous to their own group


The idea of being in a group is enough to induce own group bias (minimal group paradigm)


Unusual task in an artificial environment --> Lacks ecological validity
Might have been influenced by demand characteristics of the situation and acted in the way that they thought was expected of them.
Tajfel"s study has reduced this complex psychological phenomenon down to a very simple level, focusing just on minimal groups and performance of a simple experimental task.
Participants can"t be generalized to the wider population
All boys
Same age range & Country
Participants were told it was a study on decision making, when it was actually about group bias
Participants did not give informed consent as they did not know the true aim of the study

Connection of study to question

This study supports SIT because the participants showed ingroup favouritism and category accentuation effect, which is an intergroup behaviour and concept of SIT