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Self-categorization theory



This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the pagination of the online version will vary from the pagination of the print book. Self-Categorization Theory Abstract The focus of this chapter is self-categorization theory (SCT). SCT is a theory of the nature of the self that recognizes that perceivers are both individuals and group member, explains how and when people will define themselves as individual and group entities and its implications, and examines the impact of this variability in self-perception ('I' to 'we') for understandings of mind and behaviour. As a result, it has generated a range of distinctive subtheories, hypotheses and findings across a range of significant areas in social psychology. This chapter outlines central steps in the theory's development, its unique contribution and the impact of its ideas with specific details provided in the areas of social influence (more recently, leadership and power) and individuality (e.g. personal self, personal self-perception, personal self-beliefs). In the final section, the way SCT can be applied to better understand and solve a range of social issues is highlighted. A specific example is provided of how core SCT ideas are being implemented in secondary schools with the aim of improving school outcomes (e.g. learning, bullying, wellbeing). It is our view that through an understanding of SCT (and related work) it is possible to appreciate the important and distinctive contribution of social psychology to other areas of psychology and cognate fields.
Handbook of Theories of Social
Self-Categorization Theory
Contributors: John C. Turner & Katherine J. Reynolds
Edited by:
Paul A. M. Van Lange
Arie W. Kruglanski &
E. Tory Higgins
Book Title: Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology
Chapter Title: "Self-Categorization Theory"
Pub. Date: 2012
Access Date: March 8, 2016
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications Ltd
City: London
Print ISBN: 9780857029614
Online ISBN: 9781446249222
Print pages: 399-417
©2012 SAGE Publications Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the
pagination of the online version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
Self-Categorization Theory
The focus of this chapter is self-categorization theory (SCT). SCT is a theory of the
nature of the self that recognizes that perceivers are both individuals and group
member, explains how and when people will define themselves as individual and group
entities and its implications, and examines the impact of this variability in self-
perception (‘I’ to ‘we’) for understandings of mind and behaviour. As a result, it has
generated a range of distinctive subtheories, hypotheses and findings across a range
of significant areas in social psychology. This chapter outlines central steps in the
theory's development, its unique contribution and the impact of its ideas with specific
details provided in the areas of social influence (more recently, leadership and power)
and individuality (e.g. personal self, personal self-perception, personal self-beliefs). In
the final section, the way SCT can be applied to better understand and solve a range of
social issues is highlighted. A specific example is provided of how core SCT ideas are
being implemented in secondary schools with the aim of improving school outcomes
(e.g. learning, bullying, wellbeing). It is our view that through an understanding of SCT
(and related work) it is possible to appreciate the important and distinctive contribution
of social psychology to other areas of psychology and cognate fields.
This chapter is focused on self-categorization theory (SCT), its development, distinctive
ideas, intellectual contribution and applicability to social issues. Given that the founder
of SCT (the first author of this chapter) was a cofounder of social identity theory (SIT)
with Henri Tajfel, there is much that these theoretical perspectives co-contribute to
understanding and debates in social psychology. To appreciate what is distinctive
about SCT it is necessary to some degree to examine aspects of SIT (see also Haslam
and Ellemers,
Chapter 45
, this volume). As far as possible, though, this chapter will
focus on SCT, acknowledging where relevant overlaps and common themes. This
chapter can only provide an overview of core points. There are other more detailed
accounts of the beginnings and contribution of SCT (e.g. Turner, 1987a, 1996; Turner
and Oakes, 1989, 1997; Turner and Reynolds, 2010; Turner et al., 1987, 1994).
The proponents of both SIT and SCT are vocal in arguing that social psychology must
acknowledge the functional interdependence of mind and society in its theorizing about
the nature of mental processes (Turner and Oakes, 1997). People live, work and act in
a socially structured system, where there are group-based regularities of perception,
cognition and conduct and this reality has psychological consequences. SIT and SCT
capture the socially embedded, situated, shared, social, group-located properties of
human beings. This view contrasts with other approaches that reduce the working of the
mental system to general (individual) psychological properties (e.g. information
processing and memory systems) or the asocial (social environment-free) nature of the
individual perceiver (e.g. personality, biology).
Building on the work of Lewin, Asch, Sherif and others it is argued that human beings
are both individuals and group members, that they have personal and group aspects.
Both theories argue that the psychological nature of individuals (e.g. the self, mind,
cognition, information processing, memory, behaviour) has to be apprehended within
an understanding of groups and membership in society. SIT and SCT define the proper
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and defining task of social psychology as studying and proposing theories consistent
with the interplay between psychological functioning and the socially and/or culturally
shared properties of human life (e.g. What does social life tell us about the mind? How
does the mind make social interaction and society possible? How is the mind affected
by social life?; see Turner and Oakes, 1997 for a more detailed discussion).
Theories in social psychology offer an approximation of reality that can be further
investigated, elaborated and refined to provide a consistent explanation of the class of
phenomena of interest. Effectiveness and parsimony typically are the dimensions on
which theories are assessed. Thinking about SCT in this way the phenomena of
interest is to understand, explain and predict how people come to think, feel and act as
a psychological group and, importantly, the circumstances when this will occur and its
consequences. Through understanding the cognitive definition of the self,
perceivers define themselves and others as individual and group entities, SCT explains
when a group is ‘a group’. The theory is at the centre of explaining the way the individual
mind makes possible, and is impacted by, the fact that human beings are social
animals (Turner and Oakes, 1997). SCT aims to be an effective and parsimonious
theory of the self-process which contributes to explaining the functioning of the mind and
There is a large body of work that has investigated the workings of the theory and
derivations in an immense range of issues in the field (and beyond) including intergroup
relations and prejudice, the nature of the group and the psychological basis of group
and collective processes, social influence processes such as conformity, group
polarization, minority influence, consensualization and leadership, crowd behaviour,
social cooperation, group cohesion, social cognition (stereotyping, categorization),
collective action and social change, the nature of the self, communication and
language, and, latterly, the personal self, individuality and personality processes. In fact,
many chapters in this volume engage with fundamental SCT concepts and ideas. It is
also the case that implications of this theory extend beyond social psychology to
psychology at large (and especially the problem of cognition) and the other social
sciences (Haslam et al., 2010; Postmes and Branscombe, 2010; Reynolds et al.,
2010). So how did this theory develop, why is it important and what is its impact on a
range of social issues? We now turn to explore and explain the theory in more detail
starting with the history of its development and then its core aspects and contribution.
SCT: Personal Narrative of its Development
In this section, the early beginnings of SCT are described. More formally, the
development of the contemporary theory broadly can be summarized as involving three
main steps (see also Turner and Reynolds, 2010). The first, was the distinction between
personal identity and social identity and the hypothesis that it is social identity that is the
basis of group behaviour. The second step, which occurred while Turner was at the
Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) at Princeton in 1982–1983, involved both an
elaboration of the personal-social identity distinction to levels of self-categorization
(e.g., individual, subgroup, superordinate), and the formalization of the theory (Turner,
1985). The third step, conducted mainly in the 1980s and 1990s, involved a systematic
program of research on the self-concept and stereotyping. What emerged was a more
detailed and integrated understanding of the nature of the self and its implications for
the foundation of cognition (Oakes et al., 1994; Turner and Oakes, 1997; Turner and
Onorato, 1999; Turner et al., 1994).
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Social Identity and the Psychology of the Group
The story of SCT begins in 1971 when John Turner started his PhD under Henri Tajfel's
supervision at the University of Bristol in the UK. Like SIT, SCT begins with the minimal
group studies published in that year, in the first volume of the
European Journal of
Social Psychology
. The minimal group data had shown that social categorization into
groups, in isolation from and unconfounded by all the variables normally thought to
cause group formation and negative intergroup attitudes (interpersonal
interdependence, history of conflict), was sufficient for discrimination. Individuals
assigned more of a resource to others who were in the same group as themselves
(ingroup) compared to members of a group which did not include them (outgroup).
Furthermore, participants acted in ways that maximized the difference in allocations
between the two groups even at the expense of allocating maximum resources to the
group to which they belonged. SIT was concerned with explaining why subjects
discriminated in the minimal group paradigm. SCT addressed a different question:
Why did subjects identify with the minimal groups at all and act in ways that reflected
that these group identities mattered to them?
On Turner's arrival at Bristol in September 1971, Tajfel's explanation of the minimal
group findings had progressed from there being a ‘generic norm’ of ingroup favouritism
or ethnocentrism (Tajfel, 1972). In a French textbook on social categorization, Tajfel had
offered a new explanation of the findings. In this chapter, Tajfel introduces and defines
the concept of social identity, outlines that groups provide their members with a positive
social identity and that such positivity derives through establishing a valued
distinctiveness for their own groups compared with other groups. Turner's first task was
to flesh out this social identity and positive ingroup distinctiveness explanation of the
minimal group data. He reviewed the role of social categorization in intergroup relations
and the findings of the minimal group paradigm, producing a review paper written
before the end of 1971. This paper was presented by Turner at the Small Group
Meeting of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology (EAESP) on
Intergroup Relations held at Bristol in February 1972. The paper, which was eventually
published with additional data in 1975, showed how a systematic account of minimal
and other forms of intergroup discrimination and ingroup bias (in terms of a process he
called social competition), could be provided using social identity processes and not
necessarily conflict of interests (e.g. Sherif, 1967).
The new analysis was summarized by Tajfel as the ‘social categorization-social identity
-social comparison-positive distinctiveness’ sequence (Tajfel, 1974, 1978). The
sequence provided a theoretical framework for understanding intergroup behaviour.
Social categorizations defined people's place in society and through being internalized
into the self, together with their emotional and value significance, provided people with
social identities. Through social comparison on dimensions associated subjectively
with perceivers' social values these social identities could be evaluated and provide
valued positive distinctiveness for one's group (compared with other groups). The
motive for positive distinctiveness could lead, under certain conditions, to ingroup
favouring intergroup responses. At no time was it argued that ethnocentrism was
universal or that social categorization automatically and inevitably produced ingroup
bias or favouritism. If this were the case there would be no need for the development of
theory to explain when such outcomes were more or less likely to define social
relationships (Tajfel and Turner, 1979).
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Examination of these processes was an important focus of work during the early to mid
seventies at the University of Bristol. During this time, Tajfel proposed a continuum of
human behaviour framed at one end by interpersonal behaviour and at the other by
intergroup behaviour (Tajfel, 1978). Tajfel referred to the continuum as ‘acting in terms
of self’ versus ‘acting in terms of group’. The shift along the continuum is associated
with distinct forms of social behaviour. At the interpersonal end, it is expected that there
should be variability in behaviour towards ingroup and outgroup members. As the
social situation nears the intergroup end, though, attitudes and behaviour become more
grouplike or uniform.
The continuum was important because it highlighted that group behaviour and social
identity were expected only under selected conditions and motivated more work to be
done specifying the social psychological conditions that lead to group rather than
individual attitudes and actions. Variables such as the permeability, legitimacy and the
stability of status differences between groups in a particular social system were
identified as shaping whether a situation would be characterized by consensual
intergroup or interpersonal behaviour. The continuum also allowed Tajfel and Turner to
make a distinction between acting as an individual and acting as a group member
while at the same time recognizing that people were capable of both. Work on social
categorization could be further developed to specify what this meant psychologically. It
was this task that became the focus of SCT.
So while Tajfel and Turner continued their work (with others) on social identity,
intergroup relations and social change, that culminated in a series of influential papers
(e.g. Tajfel, 1978; Tajfel and Turner, 1979; Turner and Brown, 1978), Turner from 1978
onwards also focused on the psychological processes that underpin movement along
the behavioural continuum. At a conference in 1978 at the University of Rennes in
France held by the European Laboratory of Social Psychology (LEPS) he presented a
paper entitled ‘Towards a cognitive redefinition of the social group’ which explained
ideas on the psychological group (Turner, 1982). Turner developed a causal analysis of
the psychological process related to movement along the interpersonal–intergroup
continuum. He suggested that an individual's self-concept comprised definitions of self
that included both personal identity and social identity. Social identity (self-definition in
terms of social category memberships) was explicitly distinguished from personal
identity (self-descriptions in terms of personal and idiosyncratic attributes) and
situational variations in the self-concept were recognized with the idea that social
identity could function at the relative exclusion of personal identity.
Turner proposed a theory of group behaviour in terms of an ‘identity mechanism’ to
explain movement along the interpersonal–intergroup continuum. He hypothesized that
as people defined themselves and others as members of the same category, they
would self-stereotype in relation to the category and tend to see themselves as more
alike in terms of the defining attributes of the category. This process is refered to as
depersonalization. It was argued that it is ‘the cognitive redefinition of the self – from
unique attributes and individual differences to shared social category memberships
and associated stereotypes – that mediates group behaviour’ (Turner, 1984: 528). It
explains how individuals can psychologically be group members and ‘reinstates the
group as a psychological reality and not merely a convenient label for describing the
outcome of interpersonal processes’ (Turner, 1984: 535). This identity mechanism
transforms the interpersonal–intergroup continuum into a cognitive, social psychological
theory of the group (Turner, 1985, Turner et al., 1987; Turner et al., 1994).
Page 4 of 23
Having applied for and received funding in 1978 for the new theory, Turner and his
research group (Wetherell, Smith, Reicher, Oakes, Hogg, Colvin in roles as research
assistants, PhD students or both) started applying these fundamental ideas in various
areas. Initially the focus was social influence (conformity, group polarization, influence
within the crowd), psychological group formation and the distinction between personal
and group-based attraction (trying to show how group cohesion was a function of social
identification rather than interpersonal attraction), and the problem of the salience of
social categories.
Levels of Self-Categorization and Formalization of the Theory
While Turner was at IAS Princeton (1982–1983) he conceptualized further the
categorization processes at work in personal identity and social identity. The focus was
on the workings of self-categorization processes and the cognitive grouping of the self
as being similar to some class of stimuli in contrast to some other class of stimuli. Ideas
by Rosch (e.g. 1978) and others were particularly useful in thinking about processes of
class inclusion and levels of inclusiveness. The personal–social identity distinction was
reformulated as levels of self-categorization where people can define or categorize
themselves at different levels of abstraction; for example, at the interpersonal level
(where self is defined as a unique individual relative to others available for
comparison), at the intergroup level (where self is defined as being a group member in
contrast to a relevant outgroup), and at the superordinate level (where self is defined as
a human being in contrast to other lifeforms). Self-categorizations at levels less
inclusive than the individual person are also possible (e.g. intrapersonal comparisons
within defining the personal self; for example, Reynolds and Turner, 2006). A central
idea is that lower-order self-categories were formed inter alia from social comparisons
within higher-order ones and higher-order ones were formed
inter alia on the basis of
lower level ones (for more detail see Turner et al., 2006).
As part of the theory's development it was necessary to address the issue of what
determines which identity emerges in a given situation (e.g., personal identity or social
identity and the specific content of these). It was in Oakes' PhD on the salience of
social categories, that Oakes and Turner addressed this issue (Oakes, 1987). Bruner's
(1957) analysis of categorization and perception was adapted to correspond to the
social domain. Bruner argued that ‘all perceptual experience is necessarily the end
product of a categorization process’ (1957: 124). He held a functional view of
categorization where the determinants of cognitive accessibility were a function of
contextual factors and the current goals, needs and purposes of the perceiver. He used
the formula of ‘relative accessibility × fit’ to describe the conditions under which a
stimulus was captured by a category and given meaning by the perceiver. The aim was
to provide the perceiver with the information they needed to make sense of a stimulus
and at the point when they needed to know it.
In this SCT work on salience, Oakes and Turner originally defined normative fit as the
degree to which perceived similarities and differences between group members
correlated with the social meaning of group memberships and in a direction consistent
with such meaning of the group identities (e.g. it is expected that men and women differ
in relation to independence and dependence and that the pattern of interaction in the
given situation between men and women is consistent with men being independent and
women being dependent; Oakes, 1987). Another aspect of salience was comparative
fit. Defining comparative fit also was related to another project where Wetherell and
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Turner, in Wetherell's PhD, were developing a social identity explanation of group
polarization (Wetherell, 1987). While at Princeton, Turner was trying to provide a
quantitative principle that would allow some way of explaining why groups would
polarize as a function of individuals’ pretest views on any issue in any given context.
The aim was to predict which person or position would become prototypical
(representative, or most defining of the group) and when that prototype would polarize
or not. Turner succeeded with the development of the metacontrast principle (Turner,
1985; Turner and Oakes, 1986, 1989).
The principle states that a collection of individuals tend to be categorized as a group to
the degree inter alia
that the perceived differences between them are less than the
perceived differences between them and other people (outgroups) in the comparative
context. As an example, in a given situation men will be categorized as independent
and women as dependent when the differences between women and men in relation to
this dimension are greater than those amongst the men and amongst the women
available for comparison. Furthermore, any specific person or position tends to be
seen as more prototypical of the group as a whole to the degree that the perceived
differences between that person and other ingroup members are less than the
perceived differences between that person and outgroup members.
Using principles of accessibility (based on Bruner) and fit (comparative and normative)
it is possible to explain which of many identities will guide perception and behaviour in
any given context. The central insight is that if the meaning given to a situation (including
the self) is an outcome of categorization processes that are inherently comparative,
then self-categories also are infinitely variable, contextual and relative.
Revisiting the Self-Concept and Stereotyping
A direct implication of the SCT analysis is that a self-category could not be stored as a
fixed, cognitive structure in some mental system before it was used waiting to be
activated (as Turner along with many others had thought originally). It became clear that
basic understandings of the functioning of the cognitive system (e.g. memory,
perception, information processing, stereotyping) and the self-concept (e.g. core and
working self) had to be revisited.
The ideas at this time were facilitated by the work of Tajfel, Bruner and Rosch, but also
Medin and Barsalou who argued that categories are expressions of theories and
knowledge that explain how things go together (‘meaning-making’; for example, Medin
and Wattenmaker, 1987) and arguments against concepts as fixed mental models (e.g.
Barsalou, 1987; see Oakes et al., 1994; Turner and Reynolds, 2010). Based on SCT it
is argued that the variability of self-categories is central to how the perceiver (as an
individual and group member) responds in a world that also is variable and dynamic.
Which group becomes salient for people, when, and its associated content or meaning,
changes as a function of interactions between individuals and groups and the dynamic
nature of such interactions. Shifts in self-categorization and the content of group-based
judgments of oneself and others (e.g. stereotyping) reveals how self-categories are
oriented to reality in which there are both individuals and groups in continuous dynamic
As an example of this point let us consider a person's stereotypes that men are
independent and women are dependent. These stereotypes have to be understood
within the broader intergroup relationship between men and women in society and
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shared understandings of that relationship. At times this intergroup relationship and
social comparison as ‘males’ compared to ‘females’ will be particularly salient shaping
people's social identity and attitudes and behaviours in a given situation. It is also the
case that a fixed stereotype formed and stored as ‘women are dependent’ and ‘men
are independent’ will not serve the perceiver well in the face of changes in the
relationship between men and women in society. To be functional for the perceiver the
cognitive process needs to be able to represent new and emerging understandings of
intergroup relations and be responsive to social change processes. If this were not the
case the cognitive system would be impoverished and not very adaptive to its
Along these lines, research conducted at this time in the theory's evolution
demonstrated that stereotypes are not rigid and erroneous but reflect perceptions of
group relations from the perceiver's (possibly variable) vantage point. Likewise, one's
self-concept (personal and collective) is flexible and responsive to contextual stability
and variability. It became clear as expected that different self-categories can become
salient (e.g., myself as an individual, woman or Australian) and the content of a
particular category can change as a function of the salient comparative context
(Australians compared to Americans/Australians compared to Chinese) and ongoing
change (e.g., the historically evolving nature of what it means to be Australian).
To summarise this phase of theoretical development, then, it is argued that the self-
category is a variable judgment formed on the basis of categorization-in-context. A
person brings to a situation relatively enduring knowledge about the self (personal and
collective), and this information is used as a psychological resource in a given situation.
This knowledge, in interaction with contextual factors, then produces a particular self-
categorization and associated attitudes and behaviours. It is also the case that this
knowledge (one's perceiver readiness) can be updated as a function of current self-
categorizations and the accessibility of certain knowledge (and its meaning) can
change as a result of the same processes.
To bring the points highlighted in the above narrative together it is possible to
summarize the core theoretical developments in SCT as follows;
As with SIT it is argued that humans are not merely individuals and neither are our
minds. Individuals, groups and intergroup relations exist. Human beings are both
individuals and group members and therefore have both personal identity and social
identity. Furthermore, based on SCT the psychological depersonalization of the self
in terms of social identity produced ‘group behaviour’ and emergent group
processes (e.g. influence, cooperation, cohesiveness). Conversely, defining oneself
in terms of an idiosyncratic personal identity, in terms of individual differences from
others and distinctive personal attributes, produces ‘individual behaviour’.
People can define or categorize themselves at different levels of abstraction. It is
possible to define oneself as an individual, as a member of particular groups in
contrast to others and as a member of higher-order more inclusive groups. More
inclusive self-categories define what is socially negotiated and affirmed as being
valued, appropriate and right. At different times in different situations we define the
self in different ways and such variation in the relative salience is seen as normal
and ever-present.
Salience explains the way a particular situation (that includes the self) is
categorized and given ‘meaning’. The way the situation is categorized and
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understood by the perceiver will determine both self-perception and behaviour.
Salience is a function of an interaction between the perceiver's readiness to use a
self-category in a given instance and the fit of that self-category to the apprehended
stimulus reality.
These three ideas in combination summarize core aspects of SCT (see Turner,
1987a). We now turn to outline the way these ideas are impacting in two specific areas:
social influence, which includes work on leadership and power; and individuality, which
includes work on personal identity and personality processes.
SCT: Its Ideas and Intellectual History
Given the volume of work that speaks to the intellectual contribution of SCT to the field,
in this section the focus will be on outlining in more detail two areas only: social
influence and individuality. Social influence is an area that was a focus for initial work in
SCT that has been extended to provide a new analysis of leadership and power (e.g.
Turner, 1991; 2005; Turner and Haslam, 2001; Turner et al., 2008). Social influence
itself is at the centre of social psychology with many significant theories in the field
addressing the scientific study of how people come to influence one another affecting
their attitudes, affect and actions. A more systematic consideration of personal identity,
individuality and personality processes is an emerging area of inquiry (over the last 5
years or so) where the scope and relevance of SCT currently is being investigated (e.g.
Reynolds and Turner, 2006; Reynolds et al., 2010; Turner et al., 2006). There is also a
fundamental connection and interplay between these two areas. It is argued that it is
through social identity processes and associated social influence (from others who are
similar and ‘like us’) that group norms, values and beliefs can come to affect those
individuals who define themselves in terms of those groups. This work, then, examines
more closely the interplay between the group and the individual person.
SCT and Social Influence
To engage with the analysis of social influence offered by SCT, it is necessary to
recognize the way the categorization process is understood within this theory and in
particular the workings of the metacontrast principle. To reiterate, all things being equal,
a collection of individuals (stimuli) tend to be categorized as a group (cognitively placed
into the same class) to the degree that the perceived differences between them are
less than the perceived differences between them and other people (outgroups) in the
context of interest.
A number of studies have demonstrated how a psychological group emerges using
these principles of categorization (see Haslam and Turner, 1992). Hogg and Turner
(1987), for example, showed that when people were organized into mixed-sex groups
(men and women) or same-sex groups (men-only or women-only), individuals were
more likely to define themselves in terms of gender and to accentuate their similarity to
those of the same gender in the mixed-sex settings as opposed to when only men or
women were present (see also Oakes et al., 1991).
When people are considered to be in the same class of stimuli (‘us’ rather than ‘them’)
they are cognitively grouped as similar perceivers confronting the same stimulus
situation. This similarity leads people to tend to agree; it also creates an expectation
that they ought to agree and respond in the same way (in reactions, judgement,
attitudes, behaviour) and motivates people to bring about such agreement. In terms of
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explaining more specifically how ‘others’ come to affect one's own attitudes and
behaviour, the stages are summarized by Turner (1987b) as follows:
Individuals define themselves as members of a distinct social category.
They learn or develop the appropriate, expected, desirable behaviours that are
correlated with category membership, and differentiate it from other categories (e.g.
the stereotypical norm).
They assign the norms and attributes of the category to themselves
(internalization) through the process of depersonalization and self-stereotyping.
Their behaviour therefore becomes normative as their category membership
becomes more salient.
Internalization is critical to the emergent social norms having an impact on one's
attitudes and behaviour (see also Kelman, 1958, 2006) and is affected by the degree
to which individuals consider themselves psychologically to be members of the
particular group.
Haslam et al. (1999) provide one demonstration of aspects of these processes
showing that it is precisely through social identity that idiosyncratic views become
socially organized and consensual. Participants were asked to reflect on their social
category membership as Australians (social identity condition) or to focus on their
uniqueness from others (personal identity condition) and completed a checklist
identifying words typical of people from Australia before and after a group interaction
phase. This manipulation of social identification did result in participants indicating that
their national identity was more important to them in the social identity compared with
the personal identity condition. There also was evidence that participants defined
themselves in terms of the social category membership. In the social identity condition
(and especially postinteraction), there was greater consensus on the attributes that
defined the category of Australian, as well as the emergence of different content to
describe the stereotypical attributes of the category.
Turner (1987b, 1991) also argued that subjective validity, certainty, competence,
correctness and so on (e.g. what is considered factual and accurate), is a direct
function of similar others in the same stimulus situation being understood to agree with
one's own response. It is this point that transformed understandings of informational
and normative influence into the one process of referent informational influence (Turner,
1991). Because other ingroup members are viewed as similar to oneself, they become
a valid source of information and a testing ground for one's own views on relevant
dimensions. Under these conditions, other group members can come to have an
impact on one's own thoughts, attitudes and behaviours. It is this process of social
influence that is important in explaining how others ‘like us’ play an important role in
shaping the psychology of the person. Both certainty and uncertainty are related to the
degree to which ‘similar others’ are perceived to agree or disagree with one's own
response and are an outcome of the workings of the categorization process.
Turner (1987b, 1991) outlines a range of strategies to address situations where there is
disagreement with others defined as being ‘similar’ including (a) changing our views in
line with ingroup opinion, (b) attempts to influence other ingroup members to adopt a
different stance through processes of mutual influence, (c) recategorization of ingroup
members as being outgroup and (d) clarification of the stimulus situation (i.e. ensuring
that reference is being made to the same thing; David and Turner, 1996, 1999;
McGarty et al., 1994; Turner, 1991). It is argued that it is only within a shared ingroup
Page 9 of 23
framework that differences in perspective (e.g. criticism, new ideas, deviance) can be
resolved through discussion, clarification and mutual influence. Through these
processes ingroup members can shape each others' norms, values and beliefs in
significant ways (re)defining ‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’.
Much of the empirical work on these social influence processes has focused on
showing not just that ingroup members are more influential than outgroup members but
that the definition of who is included in the ingroup and who is excluded is a dynamic
outcome of the workings of the categorization process (Haslam et al., 1992). One
example of this point concerns shifts in levels of inclusiveness where hitherto subgroups
are recategorised in relation to a higher-order superordinate ingroup along with
associated empathy, trust, co-operation, positivity and all the other qualities that follow
perceptions of self-other similarity and being ‘ingroup’. Who is included in the ‘ingroup’
and who is excluded can be redefined shifting both the ‘meaning’ of the group (its
defined content and norms) and who has opportunities for influence within the group.
Extremists, for example, within a group can gain or lose influence as a function of the
outgroup against which the ingroup defines itself (e.g. Haslam and Turner, 1995).
In relation to the social influence process, these ideas have been demonstrated, refined
and documented, in particular, in the area of minority and majority influence. In the work
of David and Turner (e.g. 1996, 1999), there has been a focus on the SCT principles
underlying social influence and engagement with both majority and minority influence
(see also Moscovici, 1976; Turner 1991). In one of the David and Turner studies (1996,
Study 1), participants (either proconservationists or prologgers) indicated their attitudes
to logging prior to an influence message and immediately after the influence attempt
and three weeks after the attempt. Participants were presented with a prologging or
proconservation message from the ‘Friends of the Timber Industry’ or ‘Friends of the
Forest’, respectively. The message was presented as representing the majority or
minority position within the timber industry or conservationists. In this way, participants
received an influence attempt from an ingroup majority, ingroup minority, outgroup
majority or outgroup minority.
The findings revealed that when the source of the message was outgroup irrespective
of whether it was majority or minority, participants shifted away from the position
advocated by the source – there was not social influence. In the ingroup conditions,
participants moved in the direction of the source in both the majority and minority
conditions immediately following the influence attempt. In line with Moscovici (1980) the
condition that revealed the most long-term shift or change was when the message was
attributed to an ingroup minority source. There is additional work showing that as a
hitherto outgroup is recategorized as part of a more inclusive ingroup (as a function of
the frame of reference shaping the judgements of similarity and difference) it is
possible for these members to exert greater influence. The implications of these results
for the influence field more broadly are discussed in detail elsewhere (e.g. see David
and Turner, 2001; Turner, 1991).
Additional empirical work has investigated the argument that categorization of
similarities and differences between stimuli (people) not only leads to the formation of
classes (ingroup and outgroup) but defines the relative prototype of the group. There is
a hierarchy of relative influence that will follow the hierarchy of members' perceived
relative prototypicality: where a specific person (or position) tends to be seen as more
prototypical of the group when the perceived differences between the person and other
Page 10 of 23
ingroup members is less than the perceived differences between that person and
outgroup members. There are direct links between the influence hierarchy and notions
of leadership with respect to who will be influential in a group and be able to affect
others to willingly engage in certain activities and behaviours. It follows that group
members will emerge as leaders (those with the most influence) to the degree that they
are perceived as relatively prototypical of the group as a whole (and in ways that fit
existing normative expectations with respect to leadership) and that the most
prototypical person will tend to be recognized as the leader where such a role is
What has flowed from this analysis of social influence is a fundamentally new
understanding of leadership and power (e.g. Haslam et al., 2011; Turner, 2005; Turner
and Haslam, 2001; Turner et al., 2008). Leadership within SCT is conceptualized as a
group process related to relative influence and power within a group (e.g. Turner and
Haslam, 2001; Haslam, 2004). The breakthrough idea is that leadership rests on an
individual's ability to be seen as prototypical of a shared social identity and hence will
have greater influence as a result of such categorization processes. Influence over other
group members becomes possible when leaders are seen as embodying ‘who we
are’ (and in ways that normatively fit expectations of ‘our’ leaders).
In line with these points, power as the ability to have impact through others also rests on
group identity and influence processes (Turner, 2005). It is through social identity
processes that leaders are able to get others willingly to exert their will and as such
mobilize ‘followers’ to action to achieve certain ‘projects’ (including the coercion of
those who are not on board). In this SCT analysis group identity and the associated
willing support of followers it enables, allows groups to gain the resources they require
to achieve their shared goals. These ideas are supported by a range of experimental
and field studies which show that ingroup leaders (and those that are more versus less
prototypical) have more potential to influence their followers, are perceived as more
effective, are trusted more, and are seen as more charismatic (e.g. see Haslam, 2004;
Subaŝic' et al., 2011; van Knippenberg et al., 2004).
People follow leaders because they embody ‘us’, and define what ‘we’ think is true and
right, and do a better job than the rest of us of expressing what ‘we’ have in common
and what we seek to achieve collectively. There also potentially are individual factors at
play, but they exert influence only insofar as they are seen at any time by any given
group as representing its identity better than others do. Some leaders are ‘identity
entrepreneurs’ who through engaging in argumentation and political rhetoric seek to
maintain their relative prototypicality and their position (e.g. Reicher and Hopkins,
2001). There is also evidence that leaders can attempt to restructure the social context
or frame of reference and the definition of the group in ways that make their position
more prototypical. Seeking conflict with an outgroup is one such response (e.g. Rabbie
and Bekkers, 1978). The same is true when one demonizes, scapegoats and
discriminates against a minority (sub)group. Prejudice against a minority can be used
to reshape the mainstream identity, put one at the core, and increase one's influence
(Turner, 2005; Turner et al., 2008).
Thus understanding leadership as a group process does not deny the capacity of
certain leaders to make use of their insights into that process. The point is that
leadership is an ability to genuinely influence and it is an outcome of group identity
rather than being linked to the preordained life trajectory of any one individual (e.g.
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Haslam, 2004; Reicher et al., 2005; Turner and Haslam, 2001; Turner, 1991). It is
through defining the group identity that leaders are able to position themselves in ways
that maximize their influence and impact on ‘what we do’. In a more general sense,
though, it should be apparent that it is through the construction of definitions of ‘who we
are’ and ‘who we are not’ and associated social influence that people's opinion, norms,
attitudes and behaviours can become consensualized, coordinated and transformed
into collective action.
SCT and Individuality
SCT's theoretical analysis of the nature of the self and self-process also has
implications for understanding personal identity, individuality and personality
processes. The first point is that a key contribution of the SCT is that the social
comparative features that define one's social identity in a given context can also be
applied to understand one's self-definition as an individual (Haslam et al., 2010; Oakes
et al., 1994; Reynolds and Turner, 2006; Turner et al., 2006). A critical idea is that
whether impressions, perceptions and judgements of oneself and others are group-
based or individuated, depends on the levels of abstraction at which the categorization
process operates (which is a function of the goals and motives of the perceiver and the
elements of the situation being cognized). Rather than personal identity reflecting the
relatively stable and enduring features of an individual, the nature of individuality is
forged through categorization and social comparison. This argument means that one's
sense of who they are as an individual can vary depending on the social comparative
The point to emphasise is that one's values (beliefs, norms, worldviews) are variable
and socially mediated and defined by ingroup memberships and relevant social
influence processes. Under certain conditions, they also become a referent through
which one's distinctiveness from others can be defined and emphasized. The content
that is generated to describe personal identity depends on some comparative
reference and this can result in different (or the same) self-descriptors being generated
depending on the context. In a sense, individual differences can be thought about
theoretically in this framework as
relative individual differences because categorization
and ‘meaning’ involves comparison and contrast (Onorato and Turner, 2004; Turner
and Onorato, 1999).
Examining these arguments is complex because the aim is to develop a detailed
theoretical analysis of the nature of the self-process (e.g. formation, functioning,
consequences, (dis)continuity), but, people bring with them their already defined
experiences as individual and group members and often function in relatively stable
personal and group contexts. Exploring the mechanisms or processes that might
explain self-stability and self-change and its consequences in contexts where for most
people there is much stability in their group and personal experiences is a challenge.
There is much that can be done, though, to investigate these ideas empirically. A
central theme of this work to date is to demonstrate the workings of the categorization
process in relation to personal identity processes. Along these lines, Mavor, Reynolds
and Skorich (2010) have investigated the impact of having people complete self-ratings
in contexts where self and others are evaluated alone (intrapersonal context) or in
comparison to each other (interpersonal context). At the group level there is evidence
that one's own group is viewed as being more variable and heterogeneous when the
group is judged alone (an intragroup context) rather than in comparison to a relevant
Page 12 of 23
outgroup (an intergroup context; for example, Haslam et al., 1995). It is also the case
that personal self-judgments can vary depending on features of the comparative context
(e.g. intrapersonal versus interpersonal). Thus if individuals compare themselves to
others (interpersonal) rather than making assessments in isolation (intrapersonal), they
are more likely to characterize themselves in a dispositional way. The interpersonal
context accentuates the similarities and differences between the person and
comparison other, leading to a strong sense of one's self-defining features. In this way,
the comparative context has an impact on personal self-categorizations, and such
categorizations also can be variable depending on the frame of reference (Guimond et
al., 2007).
In addition, there is a growing body of evidence showing the impact social identity
processes can have on a range of outcomes often associated more with individual-
level characteristics and abilities (cognitive performance, wellbeing, self-reported
personality). Work on social identity or stereotype threat shows that when one's social
identity is salient and the stereotype of the group on the dimension of interest is
negative, this can have an impact on cognitive ability (e.g. intelligence) and
performance on dimensions relevant to the meaning or stereotype of the group (Steele
and Aronson, 1995). Reicher and Haslam (2006) examined the impact of group
processes and social identity on a range of more clinical outcomes (e.g. depression,
anxiety, paranoia). Williams et al. (2008) have research findings that show that
contamination anxiety (an aspect of obsessive–compulsive disorder) is affected not
only by the ethnic social category of the respondent (e.g. African American or European
American), but by whether the ethnic identity is salient or not when completing the
anxiety measure. Bizumic et al. (2009) show that social identity is significantly related
to, and mediated the relationship between, organizational factors and individual
psychological wellbeing (e.g. self-esteem, positive affect and job involvement, but also
negative aspects such as depression, anxiety, loss of emotional control and aggressive
and disruptive behaviour).
More specific investigations also are ongoing in relation to personality and people's
self-reported sense of what characterizes and defines them as a person (e.g., self-
beliefs, the Big Five). In personality theory and research, there is increasing recognition
that one's social roles (e.g. daughter, worker) can impact on self-rated personality
(Roberts and Donahue, 1994). The norms, expectations and meanings associated with
certain roles can become internalized into the self-concept shaping a person's sense of
self. An important element of this process is the impact of social interactions and the
function of others' expectations, reactions and appraisals in shaping one's own beliefs
about oneself (Roberts and Caspi, 2003).
It is argued that the nexus between one's roles, identity and personality could be a force
for continuity through, for example, the selection of environments that are consistent with
and affirm one's self view (e.g. Swann and Read, 1981). It is also possible that
personality may change through exposure to new roles that provide opportunities to
engage in novel behaviours. The new roles could be associated with stages of normal
adult development (e.g. parenthood, joining the workforce) or actively sought as people
seek to improve, develop and reframe their personhood (e.g. more like their ideal
image of themselves). Roberts and Mroczek (2008) argue that the findings that
personality traits continue to change across the life course highlights the need for further
work on the causes and mechanisms responsible for such change.
Page 13 of 23
Based on the self-categorization theory of social identity and social influence, such life-
development change (and broader social changes) may well affect one's group
memberships and associated social identities. As different people come to be defined
as similar to oneself, they offer new opportunities for social influence and the potential
for one's theories, expectations and beliefs about oneself and the world can change.
The general point is that these social identity changes may well impact on personhood
in significant ways (Reicher and Haslam, 2006; Reynolds et al., 2005; Reynolds and
Turner, 2006; Turner et al., 2006).
In one preliminary study related to personality processes, participants complete
standard personality measures at one point in time (phase 1) and also again under
conditions where their non-Aboriginal Australian versus Aboriginal Australian social
identity was made salient (phase 2). Results demonstrated that across time
(approximately 8 weeks) there is a high level of consistency in participant-reported
Neuroticism. There also was evidence of a significant impact of the social identity
manipulation and one's identification as a non-Aboriginal Australian in explaining
personality assessed at phase 2. Findings suggested that it was the depression
subscale of the Neuroticism measure (Goldberg IPIP-NEO) that was impacted most
strongly as a result of non-Aboriginal identity (Reynolds et al., 2011). It was explained
that in this condition, comparisons between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal Australian
may have oriented participants towards collective emotions and stereotypes that are
related to what has been a negative intergroup comparison in Australia's history (see
Branscombe and Doojse, 2004).
These kinds of studies are designed to investigate the SCT analysis of how self-views
or self-beliefs are (re)formed and in ways the recognise social identity processes and
group factors. There is evidence that categorization and social comparison affects
personal identity and that social identity processes can have an impact on cognitive
performance, personality and well-being in ways consistent with theory. Such findings
(although preliminary) indicate that group processes may well play a role in (trans)
forming personhood in particular ways. There also is more work to be done examining
the role one's individuality plays in shaping the nature, functioning and success (or
otherwise) of groups. All of these questions flow from the theoretical analysis of the
nature of the self offered by SCT.
SCT: Its Applicability to Social Issues
As the above discussions highlight, SCT provides novel and important insights into
aspects of psychological function that span intergroup relations to individual functioning.
Core theoretical ideas, then, have been applied to a range of areas in psychology many
of which can be readily related to current social problems and issues. More specific
examples are in the areas of antiracism and prejudice reduction (e.g. Gaertner et al.,
1989), the dynamics of social stability and social change (e.g. Spears et al., 2002;
Subaŝić et al., 2008; Turner and Reynolds, 2003; Wright et al., 1990), the relationship
between attitudes, social norms and behaviour (e.g. Goldstein et al., 2008; Terry and
Hogg, 1996), organizational (group) processes such as identification, leadership,
negotiation and conflict management, and working effectively with diversity (e.g.
Ashforth and Mael, 1989; Haslam, 2004; Haslam et al., 2003; Hogg and Terry, 2000;
Rink and Ellemers, 2007) and health and wellbeing related outcomes (e.g. Bizumic et
al., 2009; Branscombe et al., 1999; Haslam et al., 2009). There is detailed work in
these and other areas that outlines the specific contribution of SCT and the implications
Page 14 of 23
of the approach. In the space available, one more recent project will be outlined in detail
to give a flavour of the way SCT theoretical ideas (and related work) are being used
both to understand and define certain social problems and implement novel solution.
Currently, social psychologists at the Australian National University are involved in a
joint project with the local Department of Education concerned with applying core SCT
ideas to improving school outcomes such as numeracy and literacy, attendance,
challenging behaviour and staff and student wellbeing (Bizumic et al., 2009; Reynolds et
al., 2007). Based on the arguments outlined above, as people come to define
themselves as group members they should be more willing to internalize the norms and
values of the group, act in line with these norms and be influenced by those that are
most representative of the group. The aim of the project is to affect core aspects of
individual functioning (learning, wellbeing, bullying/aggression) through making changes
to the norms, values and beliefs that define the school as a whole (superordinate level)
and relationships between groups (conflictual or cooperative) within the school
environment (subgroup level). It is argued that to the degree these ‘interventions’ affect
one's psychological connection to the school (school identification) and understandings
of what it means to be school members (social identity content) there should be an
impact on school outcome measures.
There are a number of strategies that can be implemented to affect social identity
processes and to make higher-order identities more salient and thereby unify members
in a common purpose and affect intergroup relations within the school setting. It is
possible, for example, to (a) clarify the school's (organization's) shared mission and in
essence what differentiates the school from others (i.e. what makes us ‘us’, what are
‘our’ goals), (b) restructure the way the school functions creating new structures that
shape which groups and divisions are likely to become meaningful psychologically
(e.g., activities structured by year group are likely to affect the salience of group
memberships defined by year groups), and (c) increase the extent to which members
participate and are involved in decisions that affect them, which in turn affects their
identification with the group, ‘ownership’ of decisions and willingness (intrinsically) to
enact them (Tyler and Blader, 2000).
Building on these points, an initial starting point in applying SCT in schools has been to
build a sense of shared mission. Staff, students and interested parents and community
members (as subgroups) have been involved in a process where the vision, purpose
and ideal behaviours for staff and students within a particular school have been
identified (e.g. Haslam et al., 2003). The collated information has been endorsed by the
relevant parties and communicated to clarify the norms, values and beliefs that define
the school (at school assemblies, in the classroom, on posters displayed around the
school). A whole range of school activities and functions are shaped by this sense of
‘who we are’ (e.g. professional development, codifying shared practices, celebration of
achievements, championing individuals who exemplify the school's mission).
In some of the schools, the aim has been to better integrate the school values with the
school structure so as to promote more positive cooperative relationships between the
subgroups within the school (e.g. junior and senior school, staff and students). At one
school, in order to reduce the division amongst staff (across faculties) and amongst
staff and students and between year groups of students, a pastoral house care system
was introduced, in which other categorizations crossed through being ‘house’ members
(Crisp et al., 2001). Effectively such efforts serve to reduce the fit between certain group
Page 15 of 23
memberships and certain attributes and ways of functioning and introduce the
possibility of other meaningful identities emerging to shape behaviour (e.g. staff do not
just interact within their faculty but also across school planning).
In another school the focus has been on the classroom culture and shifting relationships,
from one in which the teacher relies on coercion and extrinsic motivation to manage
relationships with students and achieve learning outcomes, to one focused on
leadership, influence and building intrinsic motivation (Turner, 2005). It is argued that
the ability of one individual (a teacher) to get another party (a student or group of
students) to willingly engage in some task or activity is a leadership process. Learning
requires, at least in part, a process of social influence to emerge between the teacher
and students. In order to achieve this, in the classroom the teacher is encouraged to
seek to involve students in decision making about their learning and to reach shared
consensus on learning goals and standards. The class is also involved in deciding on
the process through which they all will achieve certain learning outcomes. As a result, it
is more likely for students to ‘own’, feel responsible for, and be intrinsically motivated to
achieve, certain outcomes and also be more likely to support each other in achieving
what is now a shared collective enterprise. Many of these ideas are consistent with
initiatives in the educational context (including the quality learning movement) but
locating these ideas within a broader theory of psychological functioning provides a
more integrated approach and serves to reinforce the importance of certain
educational initiatives over others.
The impact of initiatives and interventions such as these are being assessed on a
range of school outcomes using a longitudinal design across a time period of up to 4
years. Although the SCT-based interventions are in the early stages of being
introduced, initial results are in line with predictions. There is evidence that social
(school) identification is significantly related to, and mediates the relationship between,
organizational factors and individual psychological wellbeing (Bizumic et al., 2009).
Organizational factors include the degree to which staff and student support the goals
and objectives of the school, endorsement of school leadership and decision-making
processes, the academic emphasis within the school and the fairness and clarity of
rules and consistency in their implementation. These factors often form aspects of
school climate measures in the educational domain. Measures of wellbeing address
positive aspects of personal functioning, such as self-esteem, positive affect and job
involvement, but also negative aspects, such as depression, anxiety, loss of emotional
control and aggressive and disruptive behaviour (e.g. bullying, attention seeking,
victimization, spreading rumours, social exclusion). The covariation of these measures
suggests that if changes are made to schools which boost one's sense of psychological
connection or belonging to the group, wellbeing and challenging behaviour should also
be affected.
This work and the preliminary findings are exciting for a number of reasons. First, they
highlight the relevance of social psychology in addressing issues in both clinical and
educational contexts (e.g. wellbeing, aggression/bullying in schools). Second, the
findings reinforce the need to integrate further the role of social identity processes in
understanding the (individual) psychology of the person. Third, the work speaks to the
importance of recognizing all aspects of human psychological functioning (personal and
social) in addressing social issues and problems. It is argued that there is added value
in the definition of issues and the development of solutions that recognize that people
are both individuals and group members and target the most appropriate level in
Page 16 of 23
relation to the issue at hand.
In this chapter, core aspects of SCT have been outlined. This theory is part of a history
of ideas in social psychology where there is a rejection that the person and their
psychology is bound up with ‘basic processes’ that somehow sit apart from social
experience, interaction and group life. The challenge has been to develop a model of
human psychological functioning that engages with the group and society to show both
how being social has affected the workings of the human mind (e.g., thoughts,
emotions, memory, perception, imagination) and how the workings of the human mind
make the social possible. Through a detailed analysis of the basic processes that
underlie the psychological group and the cognitive definition of the self, SCT offers a
non-reductionist view of the mind which has generated a range of distinctive
subtheories, hypotheses and findings across a range of significant areas in social
psychology. In this way the theory has demonstrated both its effectiveness and
parsimony. This task has not been easy; it has been one that has involved the efforts of
many and it is one that is not yet fully completed (Turner and Reynolds, 2010). It is our
view that through serious engagement with the nature of the self and self-categorization
process as defined in SCT it will be possible to advance social psychology and
understanding of human psychology.
This chapter was supported by funding from the Australian Research Council to both
authors, including an Australian Research Fellowship to Dr Reynolds and an Australian
Professional Fellowship to Professor Turner. We would like to thank Paul van Lange for
his very helpful comments on the draft manuscript.
John C. Turner Katherine J. Reynolds
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... Turner further developed aspects of SIT in selfcategorisation theory (SCT), which elaborates on the process of categorisation and postulates that similarities with the in-group, and differences with the out-group, are accentuated in the formation of group-identity (Turner and Reynolds 2012). Here, people are depersonalised: they take on the group's identity prototype, are perceived and act as members of the group, leading to group cohesion, shared attitudes, beliefs, norms and behaviour (Hogg et al. 1995). ...
... Here, people are depersonalised: they take on the group's identity prototype, are perceived and act as members of the group, leading to group cohesion, shared attitudes, beliefs, norms and behaviour (Hogg et al. 1995). Notably, group-identity is not fixed, but dynamic in response to the social context and which groups are salient (Turner et al. 1994;Turner and Reynolds 2012). ...
... Others found new in-groups that allowed space for their values, showing similarities to returning Christian humanitarian workers who entered social groups that confirmed their new identities (Wartenweiler and Eiroa-Orosa 2016). Overall, aid workers' development of belonging upon reentry in this study reflects the dynamic responsiveness of social identity to social context (Turner et al. 1994;Turner and Reynolds 2012). ...
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This interpretative phenomenological analysis explores aid workers’ understanding of identity and belonging through the transition from working in humanitarian aid to returning home. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 participants who had returned to the UK after working in recently founded non-governmental organisations in Northern France between 2016 and 2019. Analysis of interview data identified four superordinate themes: (1) shared humanitarian identity, (2) limits and borders, (3) holding on to humanitarian identity and (4) redefining belonging and identity. Aid workers’ belonging in humanitarian work settings is rooted in shared moral values and being able to fulfil a clearly defined role. Upon returning, aid workers struggled to reintegrate, manifesting as denial of having left humanitarian work, re-creation of the social setting and moral demarcation. Participants formed a new sense of belonging through redefining their social in-group. The study sheds light on a previously unexplored area of research, specifically characterised through the closeness of the international humanitarian setting and participants’ homes. Findings suggest organisations can assist aid workers’ re-entry by supporting professional distance in the field, and through opportunities that allow to sustain moral values post-mission. Future research should focus on the role of peer support in the re-entry process and the re-entry experiences of aid workers returning from comparable settings further afield (e.g. Greece).
... Being regarded as non-prototypical may also be based on conscious or unconscious stereotypes, for example associated with minority groups (Cortina et al., 2017;Devine, 1989). People tend to see what they expect to see, and by categorising a person as belonging to a minority group it may be likely that people pay attention to category-consistent behaviours-a so-called normative fit in terms of the self-categorisation theory (Turner & Reynolds, 2012). ...
... To understand the actual association and the mechanism behind it, the theories of social learning (Bandura, 1977), the theory of social information processing (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978) as well as social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986;Tajfel & Turner, 1979) and its extension the self-categorisation theory (Turner et al., 1987;Turner & Reynolds, 2012) can be used. When employees do not know what is expected of them-or what to expect from others-because of lacking or contradictory information about obligations, mandates, and responsibilities, it may be an organisational or structural condition that gives rise to negative social work conditions. ...
... So, how can one explain and understand such a sad result, that being vulnerable due to poor health may about double the risk of being a victim of workplace bullying over a 20-months period? To answer that question, the self-categorisation theory (Turner et al., 1987;Turner & Reynolds, 2012) with the concept of prototypicality (Hogg & Terry, 2000) can be used. ...
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The aim was to investigate how supportive leadership affects workplace bullying—both in terms of risk factors that may lead to bullying but also in terms of the effects of bullying. The thesis includes three survey studies based on different Swedish cohorts and using different research design in terms of the number of data collection waves and timeframes. Based on the association between workplace bullying and poor health—and drawing on the social learning theory, the theory of social information processing, the social identity theory, and the self-categorisation theory—a circular and multilevel interaction model was created. It is presented together with six hypotheses and an open research question. The summarised and combined results can be divided into two major parts concerning (a) two studied risk factors (role ambiguity and individual poor health), and (b) the investigated moderator (supportive leadership). The results showed that role ambiguity is a long term predictor of being exposed to bullying behaviours at work, and that a hostile work climate is a mediator for that association. The results also showed that poor general health is a predictor of future bullying exposure. The results additionally showed that a supportive leadership fully moderated the effects on exposure to bullying behaviours by (a) ambiguous roles, mediated through a hostile work climate, and (b) poor general health. The result furthermore showed that a supportive leadership have an effect on the association between exposure to bullying behaviours and health. The effect was in terms of a moderated moderation also including co-worker support. Finally, the results also pointed to direct positive effects of both supportive leadership and co-worker support on individual health as well as to a direct mitigating effect of a supportive leadership on workplace bullying. Altogether, the thesis points to very important moderating effects of a supportive leadership and especially the fundamentally destructive effects in association with nonsupportive leadership.
... 17 C'est avec la théorie complémentaire développée par la suite par Turner (1987), la théorie de l'autocatégorisation, que ces modifications ont été mise davantage en évidence (voir Turner et al. 1994, Turner et Reynolds 2013. Alors que la théorie de l'identité sociale parle de catégorisation endogroupe-exogroupe, la théorie de Turner (1987) traite de la catégorisation de soi et défend l'idée que le concept de soi, loin d'être une structure psychologique rigide, est extrêmement flexible et malléable. ...
... Selon le contexte, l'individu peut adopter un nombre quasiment infini de catégorisation de soi : comme ami, comme frère, père, patron, militant écologiste, parisien, Français, Européen, etc. En pratique, Turner (1987) souligne qu'il y a trois grands niveaux d'autocatégorisation : le niveau de l'identité personnelle (je suis un individu singulier différent d'autrui) ; le niveau de l'identité sociale (je suis le membre interchangeable d'un groupe), et le niveau supra-ordonné (je suis un être humain). Or la psychologie de cet individu (ses valeurs, ses opinions, sa personnalité, ses comportements) peut se transformer de manière significative selon le niveau de catégorisation de soi qui est momentanément activée (Guimond 2010, Turner et al. 1994, Turner et Reynolds 2013. ...
... In other words, from the perspective of social psychology, this theory invites us to consider that when individuals categorize themselves as members of a group, it leads to changes in their psychology (at the level of cognitions, emotions, and motivation, etc.) that must be taken into account. 17 These changes have been more clearly demonstrated with the complementary selfcategorization theory subsequently developed by Turner in 1987 (see Turner et al. 1994, Turner andReynolds 2013). While social identity theory describes ingroup-outgroup Individual and institutional discrimination: Theoretical and methodological c... ...
... In practice, Turner (1987) points out that there are three main levels of self-categorization: the level of personal identity (I am a singular individual different from others); the level of social identity (I am an interchangeable member of a group), and the supra-ordinate level (I am a human being). The psychology of this individual (the individual's values, opinions, personality, behavior) can change significantly depending on which level of self-categorization is activated at a specific moment (Guimond 2010, Turner et al. 1994, Turner and Reynolds 2013. 18 The relevance of these processes can be illustrated by Verkuyten and Hagerdoorn's (1998) experiment that aimed to study prejudice toward Turks in the Netherlands. ...
... Furthermore, people tend to evaluate their groups more positively and show in-group bias as a means of enhancing their social self-esteem (Brown, 2000;Ellemers, Spears & Doosje, 2002;Hornsey, 2008;Verkuyten, 2005b). According to self-categorisation theory (SCT; Turner & Reynolds, 2012), identity operates at different levels of self-definition rather than on a bipolar spectrum, but the central point is always the same: the impact of social groups on the way people perceive themselves and others can be understood only by taking into consideration the importance of the social context as one of the most important agents of development of intergroup attitudes (Ellemers et al., 2002;Maloku, Derks, Van Laar & Ellemers, 2016;Nesdale & Flesser, 2001;Verkuyten, 2017). ...
Conference Paper
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Relations between the ethnic majority and minorities in Croatia have been developing under the influence of different circumstances. Hence we expect different social contexts to shape social identities of the majority and the minorities in different ways. The relationship between social identities and attitudes towards multicultur- alism and assimilationism, which determine the majority-minority relations, is particularly important. Therefore, we compared the importance of different social identities of the majority and the minority group in four multi-ethnic communities, where minorities exercise their right to education in their respective mother tongues (Croats, Serbs in Vukovar, Hungarians in Baranja, Italians in Istria and Czechs in Daruvar). In addition, we were interested in differences in attitudes towards multiculturalism and assimilation with respect to the status of the group and the region. We also wanted to investigate the relation between ideological attitudes and the importance of social identities. The data was collected from 745 primary and secondary school stu- dents, members of minorities and the majority, aged 12 to 19. The results show that the importance of specific social categories varies across regions and largely depends on the majority-minority group status. We found different patterns of relations between salience of specific social identities and the two ideological orientations, multiculturalism and assimilationism, depending on the region and group status. With an exception of Daruvar, among majority group members, ethnonationalism, rather than ethnic identity, was related to multiculturalism and assimilationism. Among minorities, these relations are considerably weaker and region dependent.
... Trust propensity as a moderator of the relationship between social identity and creativity SIT has posited and revealed that social identity leads to creativity positively because it creates impermeable boundaries that form secure relationships among organizational members (Audenaert & Decrames, 2018;Dukerich, Golden, & Shortell, 2002;Haslam, 2004;Piening, Salge, Antons, & Kreiner, 2020); it leads to incremental creativity, but not radical creativity (Madjar, Greenberg, & Chen, 2011); and, finally, social identity leads to creativity negatively for scientists and engineers (Rotondi, 1975) because categorization of one's self as identifying with an organization creates depersonalization that inhibits divergent thinking, leading to decreased creativity (Haslam, Ryan, Postmes, Spears, Jetten, & Webley, 2006;Javed, Rawwas, Khandai, Shahid, & Tayyeb, 2018;Tajfel, 1982;Turner & Reynolds, 2012). In addition, employees with high organizational identity may view work-related information subjectively, leading to below-average decision quality and, as a result, poor creativity (Michel & Jehn, 2003). ...
The present study benefits from social identity theory to argue that employees' organizational identity interacts with their trust propensity to predict affective organizational commitment and creativity. It used random coefficient regression procedures or multilevel modeling through the generalized linear mixed models command to test its hypothesis because the data that were collected in two of the studies were the nested or dependent data. Employing longitudinal data gathered from 153 participants and their 71 direct managers at a public organization in Study 1, the present study revealed that organizational identity had stronger positive influences on organizational commitment and creativity when participants' trust propensity was high. Employing longitudinal data collected from 210 employees of 32 business organizations and from 49 direct supervisors of the employees in Study 2, the present study reassured that trust propensity moderates the relationship between organizational identity and creativity. The present study contributes to the theory that employees' personal identity accentuates the positive relationship between their social identity and workplace outcomes such that the relationship becomes stronger as employees' personal identity increases.
... From a social identity perspective, people define themselves as individuals and as members of different groups (e.g., local, national, or global communities). Those who categorize themselves as members of a particular group assimilate its norms, feel more responsible for the welfare of other members and adjust individual behavior to protect the interests of comrades (Turner and Reynolds, 2012). Motivation to serve ingroup's welfare can also influence their attitudes and behavior toward the environment. ...
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This study aimed to examine whether the individual way of understanding freedom is related to pro-environmental attitudes. This idea has not been studied before. In the paper, the authors examined whether understanding freedom as extrinsic (absolute and unconditional) was related to a decrease in environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior, while understanding it as intrinsic (conditional, limited by the needs of other people) had the opposite effect. Another set of hypotheses concerned the moderating role of identification with all humanity (IWAH). The authors hypothesized that in people with a high level of IWAH, the positive relationship between intrinsic freedom and pro-environmental attitudes was stronger, and the negative relationship between extrinsic freedom and pro-environmental attitudes was weaker compared to people with a low level of IWAH. The study was conducted on a sample of 773 Polish young adults (18–29 years) using a professional research panel. The results provide empirical evidence that intrinsic and extrinsic way of understanding freedom is related to environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior. Moreover, the hypothesis concerning the moderating role of IWAH was confirmed. These results contribute to a better understanding of the factors that determine commitment to climate protection.
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Most studies on norms and COVID‐19 have ignored the group‐based and dynamic nature of normative influence where self‐relevant and salient groups might emerge and change along with their impact on health behaviours. The current research seeks to explore these issues using a three‐wave longitudinal design with a representative sample of Australians (Nwave 1 = 3024) where two group sources of potential normative influence (neighbourhood and national groups) and two COVID‐19 health behaviours (physical distancing and hand hygiene) were investigated in May, June/July and September/October 2020. Results indicated that especially from Wave 1 to Wave 2 neighbourhood descriptive norms (rather than national or injunctive norms) had the most impact on health behaviours while controlling for demographic and individual‐level health variables. This demonstrates that groups and associated norms that influence behaviours vary across time. It is concluded that research on norms needs to study which groups matter and when.
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This paper presents a new model that aims to contribute to the growing literature about the consequences of economic inequality: the economic inequality as normative information model (EINIM). In short, we argue that the level of economic inequality works as a cue that people use to infer the normative climate in a given society—for example, the common features that define individuals, societal attitudes, or institutions. Inferring these norms can potentially guide individuals’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; alternatively, people may not comply with the normative climate because they do not identify with such society. We therefore analyze the factors influencing conformity with inequality–normative information. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the EINIM as well as new avenues for research.
Clear-cut lying for personal gain is widely considered immoral. But does it matter whom one is lying to? As individual decisions naturally occur in social context, acceptability of dishonesty may depend on the group identity of the interaction partner -- posing a serious challenge for intergroup cooperation and societal polarization. Providing an economic incentive to lie without detection risk, we will examine the following: (1) Are people more likely to behave dishonestly toward their out-groups than in-groups? (2) Is this intergroup bias in dishonesty driven by in-group favouritism, out-group hostility, or both? Experiment 1 (N=2100) will test these hypotheses using artificial groups in a modified minimal-groups design. Experiment 2 (N=2100) will use natural groups, recruiting Trump and Biden voters from the 2020 US Presidential election. Compared to unclassified recipients, more (less) prevalent dishonesty toward out-group (in-group) members will be interpreted as support for out-group hostility (in-group favouritism) as primary mechanism.
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In recent years, there has been a renewal of interest in the processes through which groups coordinate social perceptions and judgement. This topic is particularly important for the study of stereotyping, as most of the impact of stereotypes derives from the fact that they are widely shared within social groups. The present experiment (N = 132) tests the assertion that perceiv-ers are more likely to generate a shared in-group stereotype to the extent that they define themselves and interact in terms of a common social category membership. Results supported predictions, indicating that manipulations intended to heighten social identity salience affected the content of self-categorizations leading to enhanced stereotype consensus and favorableness. As predicted, effects apparent when individuals completed stereotype checklists were also enhanced when checklists were completed in groups. These results are consistent with predictions derived from self-categorization theory and point to the capacity for inter-nalized group memberships to structure and regulate cognition.
Alex Haslam has thoroughly revised and updated his ground-breaking original text with this new edition. While still retaining the highly readable and engaging style of the best-selling First Edition, the author presents extensive reviews and critiques of major topics in organizational psychology - including leadership, motivation, communication, decision making, negotiation, power, productivity and collective action - in this thoroughly revised edition. New to the Second Edition: An entirely new chapter on organizational stress which deals with highly topical issues of stress appraisal, social support, coping and burnout.; New, wider textbook format and design making the entire book much more accessible for students.; A wide range of pedagogical features are included - suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter and comprehensive glossaries of social identity, social psychological and organizational terms
According to John Adair, the most important word in the leader's vocabulary is "we" and the least important word is "I". But if this is true, it raises one important question: why do psychological analyses of leadership always focus on the leader as an individual - as the great "I"? One answer is that theorists and practitioners have never properly understood the psychology of "we-ness". This book fills this gap by presenting a new psychology of leadership that is the result of two decades of research inspired by social identity and self-categorization theories. The book argues that to succeed, leaders need to create, champion, and embed a group identity in order to cultivate an understanding of 'us' of which they themselves are representative. It also shows how, by doing this, they can make a material difference to the groups, organizations, and societies that they lead. Written in an accessible and engaging style, the book examines a range of central theoretical and practical issues, including the nature of group identity, the basis of authority and legitimacy, the dynamics of justice and fairness, the determinants of followership and charisma, and the practice and politics of leadership. The book will appeal to academics, practitioners and students in social and organizational psychology, sociology, political science and anyone interested in leadership, influence and power.