Submitted by Andrea Cox
Chapter 13: The Self-System and Motivation
Social identity is when a person develops a sense of self based on belonging to a particular group. Henri Tajfel’s proposed that the groups a person has attached themselves to are an important source of pride and self-esteem (McLeod, 2008). Because people have a tendency to group things together, Tajfel believed that stereotyping is based on a normal cognitive process. Tajfels’ social identity theory begins with categorization, moves into social identification and then into social comparison (McLeod, 2008).
Gender & Ethnic Identity
Two aspect of social identity are gender and ethnicity. Gender identity is being able to distinguish between the male and female gender in one-self and others (Bergin & Bergin, 2012). Ethnic identity is when ones self-concept has been developed by a sense of belonging to an ethnic group. Infants a few months old are able to label faces by gender and distinguish faces from their own race (Bergin & Bergin, 2012). As children develop they then can gain an understanding that some groups may be stigmatized. There are at least three factors that depend on whether children perceive discrimination: 1.) social cognitive ability, 2.) obviousness of discrimination and 3.) personal vigilance toward discrimination (Bergin & Bergin, 2012)
Promoting positive self-identity is important so that students do not feel alienated or devalued. The following is a list of ways to promote positive self-identity (Bergin & Bergin, 2012):
- Use multicultural curriculum.
- Help each student fell valued in the classroom.
- Hold all students to high, but reasonable standards.
- Be self-reflective.
Incorporating writing, interactive, recreational and community service activities lessons can promote the development of self-identity (Renata, 2011). One way these activities can be implemented is by students working cooperative groups. Cooperative learning groups can increase student achievement and self-concept (Zisk, 1998).
Self-concept and social identity can play a major role in student’s success in the classroom. Self-concepts can affect how students perform in the classroom and are directly linked to motivation. Teachers need to provide opportunities for students to develop a more positive self-concept in order to increase the likelihood of student success.
Bergin, C. A., & Bergin, D. A. (2012). Information Processing, Memory and Problem Solving. Child and
adolescent development in your classroom (pp. 127 – 148). Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
McLeod, S. (2008). Social Identity Theory. – Simply Psychology. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from
Renata, R. (2011, March 6). Identity Development Activities | eHow. eHow. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from
Zisk, J. (1998). The Effects Of Cooperative Learning On Academic Self-Concept And Achievement Of Secondary Chemistry
Students. The Effects Of Cooperative Learning On Academic Self-Concept And Achievement Of Secondary Chemistry
Students. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://sciteched.org/research/Dis.htm
1. Have you ever found yourself calling on one gender more often? How do you prevent yourself from calling on all boys or girls during a class discussion?
2. Discuss a time how you handled a situation with a student(s) that was the result of cultural differences.
3. Discuss at least two activities that you use with students to promote positive self-identity.
4. Discuss at least two strategies that you use to communicate with students that you value them as individuals.