Social identity theory was first proposed by Henri Tajfel (1971). He argued that the groups to which we belong are an important source of pride and self-esteem. We can feel good about ourselves by boosting the status of any group we belong to. Age-groups, sporting teams, hobbies, gender, religions, ethnic groups and nations are all examples of groups that can give us our sense of social identity and belonging. For example, we may believe that our country, our team, our school is better than any other, and therefore other groups and their members are inferior. Unfortunately, identifying with a specific “ingroup” to improve our self-esteem can lead to competition and intolerance against an “outgroup”. Tajfel’s theory is very influential in explaining stereotyping, discrimination, prejudice and racism.

The Australian Psychological Association (APS) has compiled this excellent resource on the topic of racism. Racism is defined as the belief that certain groups are superior to others, based on birth or cultural differences in values, norms and behaviours. The APS states that

racism is associated with poor mental health and wellbeing. Evidence shows that racism not only has detrimental impacts on those discriminated against, their friends and family, and the perpetrators and society at large.

Visit their site to learn more about racism can be challenged.

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