Our Projects

Social Identity & Groups Research

One of the central premises of SIGN’s research is the idea that social identity makes group life possible. In other words, it is only when people internalize their membership of a social group, and define themselves in these terms, that they are able to effectively coordinate and cooperate with other group members. Our research into social identity and groups has demonstrated this in a multitude of ways.

In particular, our social psychology research has shown that people’s motivation to work for a group’s success is reliant on their identification with the group. Individuals who identify highly with a given social group are willing to prioritise the group’s goals and make personal sacrifices to support other group members. Individuals who do not identify highly with a given group, are not willing to make the same sacrifices and are more likely to free ride on other’s efforts.

In the organizational domain, we have shown that this translates into people’s motivation to get ahead in their careers. People who have higher levels of identification with their profession express higher career motivation and ambition. This dynamic can account for the observation that women report lower career ambition in traditionally masculine careers, like surgery, policing and the armed services. Our research has shown that women in these professions feel that they do not fit in with their typical (male) member of the profession. This lack of fit undermines their professional identification, and in this way, their motivation.