The belief of a certain group to be superior to another group can be related to the theory of social comparison, where by a human has a basic need to obtain, through comparison between themselves and others in a positive manor, self esteem (Suls & Miller, 1977).
This can result in very lively relationships developing among different groups: in order to increase the group status by out performing the other group, and in doing so, increasing self-esteem. Recent research however, tends to include more complex group situations, thus, begging the question, ‘is social identity theory able to account for these more complex groups?’ (Vescio et al, 1999). SIT is relevant when dealing with simple group formations such as in-groups and out-groups but research carried out by Vescio et al, 1999, suggest that the theory is not able to adequately explain the aforementioned ‘complex’ groups. For example, Italian/English, Male/Female. They suggest that social identity research needs to be integrated with social cognition research.
The cognitive components of the SIT have been developed by Self-Categorisation Theory (SCT). These components are used by individuals to make sense of their social environment.SCT understands all cognitions as in some way being social (Turner et al.
, 1987). Our perceptions of the physical world are based on social conventions of how to understand what we perceive. As a result, the cognitive process of the perception of social groups and physical categories is the same. We use categories to construct our environment into sensible groupings, which facilitates our understanding of the many individuals and objects in that environment. (Turner et al, 1987) Self-categorisation theory, in principal, adds to and continues the social identity theory.Self-categorisation theory relates to the causes and consequences of the process of categorising self and others as members of an in-group or an out-group (Oakes, Haslam & Turner, 1994). The individual is supposed to have varying levels of self-categorisation, which vary from each other in terms of how inclusive of others they are To conclude, SIT/SCT is a very powerful approach that has already led to a better understanding of many group processes (Starkloff, 1996).
However, most of the studies applying SCT, try to investigate stereotypical, divided groups like male/female, black/white, demonstrators/police, and so forth (Starkloff, 1996).Identity, in terms of SCT, is a kind of hidden identity that needs relative triggers (internal and external) to result in behaviour. Identity has more aspects than these cognitive processes, as defined by SCT, would allow. The importance of SCT is on collective processes, whereas precise differences of the character of identity are often ignored (Starkloff, 1996).
SIT understands groups only as the sum of its parts. Groups have more properties than their members. Categories are constructed out of what individuals (members) have in common.Hence, the distinctive group properties are not included in categories (Bornewasser & Bober, 1987). Social identity can certainly signify more than self-categorisation, although self-categorisation is the key principle in the construction of identity (Starkloff, 1996).References Bornewasser, M.
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