Social Groups and Their Influence on Society

The complex nature of human interaction is characterized by people’s tendency to associate themselves with a particular social group. The concept of social groups and their role in the life of an individual is explored in the work of sociologist Henri Tajfel, the author of social identity theory (McLeod par. 1).

In-groups are groups or social categories an individual feels connected to and identifies with (Bernstein par. 1). Out-groups are those groups or social categories an individual distances from (Bernstein par. 1; Whitbourne, par. 1). The association between an individual and a particular group is based upon the judgment the individual makes about themselves and their position in the society (Robbins and Krueger 32). The association is achieved through the processes of social categorization, identification, and comparison (Ashforth and Mael). There are a variety of in-groups and out-groups based upon numerous differentiating factors. The following is a list of a few of my in-groups:

  • white;
  • lower-middle-class;
  • geek;
  • atheist etc.

My identification with these groups influences my behavior. As such, I behave in a way that is acceptable in a specific group (Tajfel 98). I use my preferences regarding in-groups as guiding principles to what others in my group like and what their behavior is likely to be. My in-groups affected my perception of the world the same way my values, views, and preferences affect the way I see the world.

The following is a list of a few of my out-groups:

  • Asian;
  • upper class;
  • book lover;
  • catholic etc.

The identification of these out-groups means that I might have a certain bias towards their members and see them as different from myself. I also might feel inclined to find negative aspects in the members of out-groups to elevate the status of my in-groups.

The part of social identity theory, in-groups and out-groups allow people to categorize themselves and others according to specific characteristics.

Works Cited

Asforth, Blake and Fred Mael. “Social Identity Theory and the Organization”. Academy of Management Review, 14.1 (1989): 20-39.

Tajfel, Henry. Exteriments in Intergroup Discrimination. 2016. Web.

Robbins, Jordan and Joachim Krueger. “Social Projection to Ingroups and Outgroups: A Review and Meta-Analysis”. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9.1 (2005): 32-47. Web.

Whitbourne, Susan. In-groups, out-groups, and the psychology of crowds. 2016. Web.

McLeod, Saul. Social Identity Theory. 2016. Web.

Bernstein, Michael. Ingroups and Outgroups. 2016. Web.