Though the Sociocultural Approach relies heavily on qualitative methods, experiments are also used, and Tajfel’s (1971) study of in-group and out-group behaviour is an example of the diversity of the methods used.

The central hypothesis of Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory (SIT) is that group members of an in-group will seek to expose negative aspects of an out-group, and, in this way, they enhance their self-image. It follows that people tend to divide their social world into “them” and “us” through complex processes of social categorisation. The idea that groups convey a sense of social identity is one that usually resonates with adolescents who can readily find examples of people who try to enhance the status of the groups they belong to. You might like to reflect on examples from your own experiences where an in-group has discriminated against an out-group to enhance their self-image.

These resources provide additional information about Tajfel’s theory:

Social Identity Theory

Minimal Groups Paradigm 


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