A tale of two theories: A critical comparison of identity theory with social identity theory

Hogg, Michael A., Terry, Deborah J., & White, Katherine M. (1995) A tale of two theories: A critical comparison of identity theory with social identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58(4), pp. 255-269.


Identity theory and social identity theory are two remarkably similar perspectives on the dynamic mediation of the socially constructed self between individual behavior and social structure. Yet there is almost no systematic communication between these two perspectivies; they occupy parallel bur separate universes. This article describes both theories, summarizes their similarities, critically discusses their differences and outlines some research directions. Against a background of metatheoretical similarity, we find marked differences in terms of 1) level of analysis, 2) the role of intergroup behavior, 3) the relationship between roles and groups, and 4) salience of social context and identity. Differences can be traced largely to the microsociological roots of identity theory and the psychological roots of social identity theory. Identiy theory may be more effective in dealing with chronic identities and with interpersonal social interaction, while social identity theory may be more useful in exploring intergroup dimensions and in specifying the sociocognitive generative details of identity dynamics.

Impact and interest:

456 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 7879
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal’s website (see hypertext link) or contact the author: km.white@qut.edu.au
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 0190-2725
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Social and Community Psychology (170113)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Health Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1995 American Sociological Association
Deposited On: 28 May 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2011 17:49

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page