Groups vs. Categories
● a group is usually defined as a number of people who
identify and interact with one another
● One way of determining if a collection of people can be
considered a group is if individuals who belong to that
collection use the self-referent pronoun "we"
● Collections of people that do not use the self-referent
pronoun "we" but share certain characteristicsare different
from groups in that they usually do not regularly interact
with each other nor share similar interests or values. Such
collections are referred to as categories of people rather
Social Identity Theory
● Social psychological theory concerned with
when and why individuals identify with, and
behave as part of, social groups
● It is also concerned with what difference it
makes when encounters between individuals
are perceived as encounters between group
● We categorize objects in order to understand them
● We do the same with other people
● We use social categories like black, white,
Australian, Christian, Muslim, student, and busdriver
because they are useful.
● If we can assign people to a category then that tells
us things about those people.
● We also find out things about ourselves by knowing
what categories we belong to.
● We identify with groups that we perceive ourselves to belong to.
Identification carries two meanings.
– Part of who we are is made up of our group memberships. That is,
sometimes we think of ourselves as "us" vs. "them" or "we" vs. "they." In
other words, sometimes we think of ourselves as group members and at
other times we think of ourselves as unique individuals. Thinking of
yourself as a group member and thinking of yourself as a unique individual
are both parts of your self-concept. The first is referred to as social
identity, the latter is referred to as personal identity.
– The other meaning implied by the concept of identity is the idea that we
are, in some sense, the same, or identical to other people. We aren't
actually identical, but those in our INGROUP are more like us than those
in our OUTGROUPS. We treat people differently based on
● To function effectively in the world we need to feel good about ourselves.
● The idea of social comparison is that in order to evaluate ourselves we
compare ourselves with similar others.
● We often gain self-esteem by comparing ourselves with others in our group,
particularly if we can claim membership in a prestigious group.
● The prestige of a group is also often created through comparisons that
positively reflect on the group. Groups choose dimensions for comparison in
order to maximize the positivity of their own group.
Primary and Secondary Groups
● A Primary group is typically a small social group
whose members share close, personal,
● Secondary groups are large groups whose
relationships are impersonal and goal-oriented.
families are primary groups
classes are secondary groups
● Groups strongly influence the identity and
behavior of group members
● Erving Goffman defined social life as an information game wherein people give (i.e.,
intentionally transmit information) and give off (i.e., accidentally transmit information)
details about themselves through the emphasis they place upon the social groups to
which they belong.
People spend much of their lives attempting to demonstrate and affirm their
membership within groups that are well regarded while distancing themselves from
groups that are stigmatized within society.
People learn a wide variety of "signifying practices" or ways of showing others who
we are and what we do within group contexts, which demonstrate group membership
● things people do to give meaning to themselves
– group members must define an identity into existence
– group members must establish a set of codes or
symbolic signals that allow people to tell others they are
a member of a group
– group members must establish ritual occasions or
opportunities to affirm our membership in the group
– group members must come up with ways to police the
boundaries of our group.
● If you've ever done something in a group that
you would not do if you were alone, it's likely
that you experienced conformity; your attitudes,
beliefs, and/or behaviors were influenced by
Solomon Asch's conformity experiments led
people to deny reality in order to fit in.
● Social facilitation is the tendency for people to
be aroused into better performance on simple
tasks or tasks at which they are expert or that
have become autonomous when under the eye
Recent neurological research on the
footballer Neymar from Brazil showed
that his brain was often on something
akin to an “autopilot” when playing futbol.
This supports the idea of social
● Social loafing refers to the phenomenon that
can occur when people in a group make less of
an effort to achieve a goal than they would
● As a result of social loafing, groups can
sometimes generate less total output than the
combined performance of their members
working as individuals.
● Deindividuation refers to the phenomenon of
relinquishing one's sense of identity, self-
awareness, or evaluation apprehension.
● This can happen as a result of becoming part of
a group that fosters obedience to group norms
rather than an individual's norms, such as an
army or mob.
People can lose their sense of
individuality in a mob.
● Group polarization refers to the finding that
after participating in a discussion group,
members tend to advocate more extreme
positions and/or call for riskier courses of action
than individuals who did not participate in any
● Group polarization results from two primary
mechanisms: social comparison and
Diffusion of Responsibility
● Diffusion of responsibility (also called the
bystander effect) is a social phenomenon which
tends to occur in groups of people above a
certain critical size when responsibility is not
● When something happens that warrants
intervention, because responsibility has been
diffused, no one takes action.
A widely cited example of this effect is the
murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964.
False Consensus and Illusory
● The false consensus effect is the tendency for
people to project their way of thinking onto
● Illusory superiority is a cognitive bias in which
people overestimate the degree to which they
possess desirable qualities, relative to others,
or underestimate their negative qualities
relative to others.
● a process by which a group can make bad or
● In a groupthink situation, each member of the
group attempts to conform his or her opinions
to what they believe to be the consensus of the
● A social network is a social structure between actors, either individuals or organizations.
● It indicates the ways in which they are connected through various social familiarities
ranging from casual acquaintance to close familial bonds.
● Research in a number of academic fields has demonstrated that social networks operate
on many levels, from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in
determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which
individuals succeed in achieving their goals.