How can Social Identity Theory reduce conflict?

How can reduce conflict and unite peace amongst people using our knowledge of Social Identity Theory?

Social Identity Theory explores the idea of people favouring people who are similar to them (in group favouritism). There are many aspects of our identity that contribute to who we relate to and which groups we consider our own. We learnt about Sherif’s experiment in class, this was a field experiment conducted on 22 boys, all were part of the same religion, same age, and very similar backgrounds and intelligence. Even with pretty much everything about them being the similar there were still characteristics of in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination exhibited. In-group favouritism refers to favouring those who belong to the same group as you. Whereas out-group discrimination refers to the absence of favouritism and sometimes even purposely highlighting the flaws of the other group. This again relating to social comparison which refers to how groups tend to compare themselves sometimes in order to project themselves as better than another.

This theory can be applied to real life situations, for example the Rohingya minority group in Myanmar, they are considered the out group for many of the citizens in Myanmar. This leads to severe cases of out group discrimination, they aren’t offered housing, clothing, food and many of the necessary needs of humans. This also relates to social comparison in terms of the fact that the non-muslims in Myanmar believe they are of more importance and believe they deserve more than the Rohingya (Muslim) people. In Social Identity Theory we also learned that if both groups work together for the same goal it often leads to them diminishing out group discrimination. This was shown when the two boy groups were forced to move a bus after it had broken down, they both had the same goal and this lead to them realising there really is no difference between them.

The way to possibly join these two opposing groups is by possibly putting them in a situation that causes them to have the same goal, this will in theory cause them to realise that they aren’t really that different, in an effort to diminish discrimination based on the group they are in.


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1 Comment on How can Social Identity Theory reduce conflict?

    September 26, 2017 at 6:50 am (5 years ago)

    Based on what you have learned so far in IFP, what activities could work in bringing two groups that have opposing views together?


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