Social Groups and Social Identity
A social group comprises individuals who share similar opinions, beliefs, values, goals, and behaviors. Notably, social groups are key social structures of the human culture; therefore, not being in a group is inevitable. For instance, people form groups to play basketball, form governments, worship together, and achieve business goals. Additionally, groups influence how people perceive individual members. Similarly, groups also influence how the group members view themselves; they influence the type of person an individual becomes, their beliefs, values, opinions, and reactions toward other people (Leary & Tangney, 2012). In other words, groups give individuals social identity. Social identity is the self-concept and emotional attachment that results from membership in a certain group (Payne, n.d.). It is also the knowledge of the group’s social status in relation to other groups (Leary & Tangney, 2012).
A group cannot be a group when members do not experience social identity. This is because individual members feel good when they define themselves as part of a particular group; therefore, there would be no group without this good feeling of membership. Evidently, social groups influence the behavior of group members. For instance, being in a cheerleading group requires qualities like physical fitness. Physical fitness, in this case, is one of the group structures of the cheerleading group. Group structures are stable norms and roles that describe the appropriate conduct of the group and its members (Payne, n.d.). These norms and roles guide the group members in knowing how to behave to be defined as good members. With this knowledge in mind, an individual will need to be physically fit if they intend to become part of the cheerleading group. Consequently, this influences their behavior by eating healthy diets and exercising regularly.
In conclusion, social groups are significant structures in human culture, as they help individuals complete various tasks like playing basketball. Social groups give individuals a social identity: they influence self-concept and how people perceive individual members. Consequently, groups strongly influence an individual’s actions as the individual strives to behave in a particular way to be identified as a good member and attain the group’s social status.
Leary, M., & Tangney, J. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of self and identity (2nd ed.). The Guilford Press.
Payne, W. (n.d.). Human Behavior and the Social Environment II.
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Consider groups that provide a particularly strong social identity for their members.
Why do you think social identity is so strong in these groups, and how does the experience of identity influence the group members’ behavior?
Reading is chapter 15 of the attached textbook. Thank you
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