Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Shana Levin

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2013 Sarah B. Powers


Social Identity Theory attempts to explain why individuals can act primarily as group members and secondarily as individuals and predict how individuals maintain positive social identities. Individuals are motivated to establish social identities to increase self-esteem and reduce uncertainty, and do so by using prototypes to cognitively represent, categorize, and compare in-groups from out-groups. Although Social Identity Theory explains the processes individuals undergo to develop social identities and situate themselves in society, it lacks the framework to explain how culture impacts an individual’s identity and the consequences associated with the contextual nature of a social identity. Individualism and collectivism are two cultural syndromes that can be prototyped by the individual, and when incorporated into a social identity, prescribe distinct cognitions, emotions, values, and self-concepts. As the frame of reference in which social identities are constructed expands and contracts, there are different cultural implications for social identities. This paper will extend Social Identity Theory and evaluate the different cultural implications concerning individual, social, and national levels of identity. We will explain fundamental differences in the way people perceive themselves and their realities, and predict how individualism and collectivism affect social identities as the situation context of changes.