Tajfel’s Theory and Findings in Sherif’s Study

‘Use Tajfel’s theory (S. I. T) to explain the findings in Sherif’s study’ Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory (S. I. T) explains that the simple act of being grouped will inevitably lead to prejudice against other groups which happens in three stages, Social Categorisation, Social Identification and Social Comparison. Sherif wanted to see that if it was possible to instil prejudice between two similar groups by putting them in competition with eachother, he did this by advertising for boys to take part in research whilst attending summer camp for two weeks.

In the first week the boys (Participants) were put into two groups and were asked to come up with a team name, flag and rules. During this week the participants had formed an in-group with norms and similarities. On the second week they were put into a competition to see if prejudice and discrimination would take place just because they had formed in-groups. With Sherif’s study, we can use S. I.

T to explain the results, findings of this study show that when people, who had no problem with eachother, were put into groups, prejudice and discrimination developed from both groups of boys. Social Categorisation and Identification were both important parts in this study as it explains how normal people can be ‘categorised’ into groups, they then identify themselves with their in-group and start noticing similarities between themselves and developing norms, any group that doesn’t follow their norms are seen as an out-group.

In Sherif’s study, the boys had recognized themselves as being in an ‘in-group’ and started to notice differences with the people in the ‘out-group’, this is what triggers off prejudice which then triggers discrimination. Social Comparison is what really explains the results in Sherif’s study, Social Comparison in S. I. T tells us that in-groups boost their self-esteem by making the out-group seem inferior, if given the chance to make ones in-group seem better you take it and vice versa.

In Sherif’s study, his findings show that when one team was offered the chance to look good they took it, by trying to win the competition this meant that the out-group would lose, showing that the in-group were superior in winning and making the out-group look bad. Sherif’s study’s findings were backed up with Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory, showing that it is possible to instil prejudice between two basically similar groups by putting them in competition with eachother.


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