Personal and social identity

Who am I? This question is common but the answer is so unusual that it could be considered a rhetorical question. This is a question we often ask ourselves on a regular basis when we don’t feel safe or know how to take control of our life.

However, this article is not meant to be an existential philosophical essay on being, nor to give a transcendental answer that will make you reinvent yourself. simply I’ll show what psychology has to say about identity and how that largely determines our behavior.

Identity: something that defines us

With just a glance at different profiles on social media, we can see the little descriptions we make of ourselves. There are those who define themselves as students, footballers, journalists, moviegoers; while others will define themselves as a happy, sympathetic, funny, curious, passionate person, etc.

As can be seen, these two types of definitions are the most common and have a fundamental difference between them. Some people are defined by the groups to which they belong, while others are defined by their personal traits. Psychology defines the concept of self, the self or “self” as the same construction formed by two different identities: personal identity and social identity.

Social identity

the social identity defines the self (self-concept) in terms of membership groups. We have as many social identities as we have groups to which we feel we belong. Therefore, groups of members determine the group as an important aspect of self-concept, the most important for some people.

Take the example of a famous Latin singer. Ricky Martin is a part of many roles and he could define himself as a man, artist, brunette, singer, gay, millionaire, son, Latin American, father, etc. He could define himself with any of them, however will choose to identify with these adjectives that he feels differentiate it more and give it a differential value compared to the rest.

Another representative example can be seen in the short biographies that each of us have on the social network Twitter. Defining oneself according to the groups to which one belongs is as human as judging others according to their dress and their non-verbal behavior.

By forming such a large part of our self-image, groups irreparably determine our self-esteem. Remember that self-esteem is an emotional and emotional assessment we make of our own self-concept. Therefore, defining themselves on the basis of high social status groups will mean high self-esteem, while those in groups that are not socially valued will need to use personal identity support strategies to cope with the decrease in their valuation.

In this way, we see the strong impact that the different groups we belong to have on our self-esteem and our self-image.

Effects of social identity

In the article where we talk about stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination, we mention Tajfel’s theory of social identity in which the effects of social categorization on intergroup relations in the form of prejudices, stereotypes and behaviors discriminatory practices were revealed.

Tajfel proved that the simple fact of identifying a group and seeing it as different from others has led to differentiated treatment as it affects the cognitive process of perception, Increase the extent of similarities with those in the same group and differences with those who are not part of our membership group. This perceptual effect is known in social psychology as the effect of double stress.

As we noted earlier, social identity and self-esteem are closely linked. Part of our self-esteem depends on evaluating groups of members. If we like the group of members, we like it. “Shining with the reflection of the glory” of others. We identify with the accomplishments of the group or any of its individuals and that translates into a positive mood and self-esteem. This effect is widely noticeable among football fans.

When the winning team is ours, we take to the streets proudly identified with our team’s success and we attribute it, because they are part of our identity. To feel Spanish when Iniesta gave us the victory in this wonderful summer 2010?

Personal identity

Social identity defines self (and self-concept) in terms of social relationships and idiosyncratic traits (I am different from others). We have as many “selves” as we have relationships we are involved in and idiosyncratic characteristics we believe we have.

But what sets us apart from others when we are part of the same group? here come into play our traits, attitudes, skills and other characteristics that we attribute to ourselvess. Those who define themselves by their sympathy, their solidarity, their tranquility or their courage; they have a broader personal identity than social identity. This may be because their home groups do not make them feel good about their low social status, or simply because the individuality of these people is better reflected in their attributes and social roles.

I’m sure that by reading this article you were trying to understand what identity you are making yourself known to others when you introduce yourself. You can go one step further, you know that the basis of promoting self-image is to maintain a high level of self-esteem. so caring for and cultivating those groups or traits that you define yourself with and want the world to know you with, Because if you define yourself with them, it means that they have great emotional value for you. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing yourself.

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