Similarities and Differences in the Way Idendity Is Conceptualised by the Psychosocial Theory and Social Identity Theory


Describe the similarities and the differences in the way identity is conceptualised by the psychosocial theory of identity and social identity theory.

The Concept of identity is to understand people and what they do in their everyday lives.   Identity is a very complex subject and does not have a clear meaning.   Over the years psychologists have worked with different methods and theories to help with the understanding of identity.   This essay will look at two types of psychological identity theories. The first being psychosocial theory, which originated from Eric Erikson and was then further developed by James Marcia.   The second theory is social identity and was introduced by Henri Tajfel.   After giving a brief description on how these two theories were developed and the results achieved, this essay will set out to see the similarities and differences in the way they conceptualise identity.
The methods Erikson used to conceptualise identity was clinical and natural observations, he also analysed the biographies of famous men.   He was the first theorist to see identity as psychosocial, which meant he believed in the continuity of what and how things were in society when growing up and how it influenced and developed our own identity.   Erikson believed that identify can be individual or social and that it developed through a life time, with this in mind he constructed eight development stages to identity (cited in Phonix,2007, p.54), starting from birth and working up to late adulthood.   Adolescence (stage 5) was particularly important to him, as he believed that this was when we achieved our ego identity, which is understood as being secure with who we are and what one is. Erikson’s observation saw that this was a time of psychosocial moratorium; this is where adolescence could experiment with different social identities before committing themselves to young adulthood. He also found that some could not commit to their role in adulthood, which he...