Social identity theory aims to specify and predict the circumstances in which individuals consider themselves as individuals or as members of a group. The theory also considers the consequences of personal and social identities for individual perceptions and group behavior. Therefore, social identity theory partly reflects the desire to re-establish a more collectivist approach to the social psychology of the self and social groups. As originally formulated by social psychologists Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s and 1980s, social identity theory introduced the concept of social identity as a way of explaining intergroup behavior.
The term “social identity theory” did not achieve academic popularity until the late 1970s, but the basic underlying concepts associated with it emerged in the early 20th century. Social identity theory, which was originally developed by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s, focuses on the interaction between personal and social identities. The theory of social identity emerged from Henri Tajfel's early works, which examined the way in which perceptual processes generated stereotypes and social prejudices. Social identity theory, which was formulated by social psychologist Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s, describes the conditions in which social identity becomes more important than one's own identity as an individual.
The central hypothesis of social identity theory is that members of an internal group will seek to find negative aspects of an external group, thus improving their image of themselves. For example, a person may define themselves as a business executive, an animal lover, and a devoted aunt, but those identities will only emerge if they are relevant to the social situation. Just to reiterate, in the theory of social identity, belonging to a group is not something strange or artificial that is linked to the person, but rather it is a real, true and vital part of the person. Some social identity theorists, including John Turner, consider that the self-esteem hypothesis is not canonical of social identity theory.
Social identity attributes the cause of favouritism within the group to a psychological need for positive distinctiveness and describes situations in which favouritism is likely to occur within the group (depending on the perceived status, legitimacy, stability and permeability of the group). Some researchers, including Michael Hogg and Dominic Abrams, thus propose a fairly direct relationship between positive social identity and self-esteem. Social identity theory states that social behavior will want a person to change their behavior while in a group. The concept of social identity was created as a means of considering the way in which one conceptualizes the self according to the social groups to which one belongs.
If, for example, you've classified yourself as a student, you'll most likely adopt the identity of a student and start acting the way you think students act (and conform to group norms).