Social identity theory

These ideas are consisted with Social Identity Theory which proposes that an individual’s self concept is influenced by the “ingroups” he or she belongs to.1 Individuals are motivated to attach positive evaluations to their ingroups when compared with “outgroups” with whom they do not have a relationship. Positive associations one attaches to an ingroup may then extend to having a positive self concept and high self esteem.

The important role of peer groups in the development of identity must be monitored within the peer program context to ensure that peer-based programs do not reinforce negative identity and negative role stereotypes associated with the target group. Without monitoring and guidance, participants may begin to dwell on issues and adopt the identity of ‘being a teenage mum’ or ‘being a gay or lesbian youth’ rather than constructing more positive identity descriptions and roles e.g. being a positive role model for others, advocating for equal rights.


  1. Tajfel, H. and J. Turner (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict, The social psychology of intergroup relations. WG Austin & S Worshel (eds), Montenery, CA, Brooks/Cole.