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Identity Theory
Version: 3

Key Words:

identity social psychology

Background / Metatheory:

Identity theory was born out of Sheldon Stryker's efforts to develop a more tractable theory from the symbolic interactionism framework. The purpose of the theory is to explain how people gain identities and when/how these identities influence their behavior.

Terms & Definitions:

  • negative evaluations - unsupportive responses to behavior
  • network of relationships - a set of actors whose ties render them reachable by one another
  • positive evaluations - supportive responses to behavior
  • salience - the psychological prominence or conspicuousness of a concept
  • social position - any socially recognized category of actors
  • values - beliefs about what is important
  • commitment - the extent to which P's relationships require P to perform a role
  • identity - perception of oneself as an occupant of a role
  • role - a cluster of duties, rights, and obligations associated with a particular social position
  • role performance - behavior enacted when fulfilling a role
  • counter-role - a role associated with a social position which is defined in relation to another social position
  • related identities - identities which are based on the same role or on a counter-role
  • role expectation - expectations for role performance

Scope Conditions:

  1. Identity salience is greater than 0.
  2. P has multiple roles from which to choose.
  3. There is consensus on the duties, rights, and obligations entailed by a given social position.
  4. P prefers positive evaluations to negative evaluations.

Propositions:

  1. The greater the commitment premised on an identity, the more positive will be the evaluation of that identity.
  2. The more positive the evaluation of an identity, the more salient will be that identity.
  3. The greater the commitment premised on an identity, the more salient will be that identity.
  4. The more a network of relationships is premised on an identity relative to other potential identities, the more salient will be that identity.
  5. The more people in a network of commitment premised on an identity for whom related identities are highly salient, the more salient will be the identity.
  6. The more salient an identity, the more consistent role performances will be with role expectations.
  7. The more salient an identity, the more a situation will be perceived as an opportunity to perform the role underlying the identity.
  8. The more salient an identity, the more opportunities to perform the role underlying the identity will be sought out.
  9. The more salient an identity, the more role performances will reflect generally shared norms and values.
Title: Identity Theory
Version: 3 / 3
History:


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