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Social Psychology

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Submitted By mandylogy
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Abstract:
Identity is an abstract, complex and dynamic concept. As a result of those characteristics, identity is not easily defined. According to Pinney, a principal objective of one’s adolescent years is the formation of an identity, and “those who fail to achieve a secure identity are faced with identity confusion, a lack of clarity about who they are and what their role is in life” This suggest that identity development plays a critical role in the individual’s psychological well-being. Thus the necessity of understanding your sense of identity is self-evident. In summary, in this assignment, I’m going to discuss the importance of identity, and the relation between the identity and role of a person portray and enact.

To begin with, identity plays an important role in our daily life, and the Identity I’m talking about here is not just a set of computerised data that distinguish me from you and you from me; Identity is a complex term, which links self attitudes, or identities, to the role relationships and role-related behaviour of individuals. Identity theorists argue that the self consists of a collection of identities, each of which is based on occupying a particular role (Stryker, 1968; Stryker & Burke, 2000). Identities can be defined as one's answers to the question 'Who am I?" (Stryker & Serpe, 1982). Many of the "answers" (e.g., "I am a student") are linked to the roles we occupy, so they are often referred to as "role identities" or simply, "identities." For example, familial identities might include those of married couple or parent and occupational identities might include those of accountant or salesperson. In turn, these role identities are said to influence behavior in that each role has a set of associated meanings and expectations for the self (Burke & Reitzes, 1981).

No doubt, identity is fundamental to every individual, because based on identity we are able to describe the relative ranking of a particular social identity in an individual’s hierarchically organized self-concept. According to Hazel Rose Markus in 1977, he stated that self-schemas are cognitive generalisations about oneself, derived from past experience. The meaning is similar to the meaning of the term self-concept. Our self-schemas organise and guide the processing of self-related information. Self-schemas, like other schemas influence whether information is attended to and how easily it is recalled. Thus it is easier to encode things and remember things that fit into it. In additional, through self-concept we further construe the schemas to contain knowledge used to guide having and doing as it pertains to a particular societal role or personal identity. For example, when we meet people and we tend to treat them as members of a category rather than as a totally unique creature that we’ve never come across before. The category may be race, gender, religion, nationality, fashion style, and so on. This concludes that, with social schema, we are more likely to understand a person attribution and able to respond accordingly.

Now, take a look at the society we’re living in. Majority of us are playing more than one role in our daily life, from husband to father, from daughter to student, and for each role we enact, we ought to be clear of the responsibilities and a certain schemas on that particular identity we chose to play. In related to above, the importance of a role is determined by commitment to the role, which includes attitudes and emotions, participation in the role, and knowledge about the role. An important issue in career development is how individuals integrate the various life roles. (Matzeder & Krieshok, 333) It is important for us to understand the roles we play because each role we play has different goals, different standards of achievement. For instance, as an employee, that person are concerned with making enough money to pay his bills and groceries, but as a father he must have to leave those concerns aside so he can get on with the business of parenting: encouraging, nurturing, sometimes disciplining, and so on. Likewise, as a student, I am constantly measuring my assignment and performance at school, while as I’m in a relationship I am devoted to appreciating my boyfriend’s many fine qualities as well as his faults. Thus, knowing our responsibilities and expectations of ourselves in each role explicit helps us to evaluate how well we’re doing in each role, and that is when role identities come in the picture.

Moving on, understand the identity of the various roles we play helps to keep our head in order and prevent roles conflict. According to Marks (1977) theorized that role strain is a result of individuals' psychological commitment to their social roles. Role conflict often happened when a person finds themselves torn between two roles with which they identify, but each role has conflicting requirements. A very good example of role conflict is when a doctor who has two commitments, that of doctor and that of father. He must decide whether he should be present for his daughter's birthday party in his role as father or attend an ailing patient as a doctor. This is related to the psychological concept of cognitive dissonance. Another kind of conflict occurs when cultural norms strictly enforce gender roles that do not match gender identity. For instance, a single mother having to raise her children with no husband. In so doing she must try and impart the nature of both sex roles into her children. She was not designed to do so therefore the conflict begins. After all, each is a unique individual and most roles are stressful. However, when individuals perceive themselves as coping well, this may lessen their feelings of role strain and increase life satisfaction (Matsui, Ohsawa, & Onglatco, 1995). Therefore, to resolve role conflict one must understand their role and also the role of the opposition, the people we dealing with. In short, thinking about the role helps keep you focused on the moment and prevent the feeling of being torn into a thousand tiny pieces.

In related to above matter, role strain often happened when a high degree of multiple roles is involved, especially when each role demands a substantial time commitment. Therefore, to minimise role strain the importance an individual places on a life role has been termed role salience by career theorist Donald Super (1980, 1990). For a better understanding, the salience of a particular role is measured on one behavioural and two affective dimensions, which is participation; the behavioural dimension, refers to the amount of time spent in the role. Next we have commitment; the first affective dimension, describes the importance of a role to the individual's self-concept, and lastly values expectations; the second affective dimension, addresses how well the individual is able to express personal values within a role (Super & Neville, 1986). In my perspective, the role of identity salience is important, because it conceptualized as the likelihood that the identity will be invoked in diverse situations. An example given by Stryker (1968), illustrate a former New York mayor who decided not to run for another term of office in order to maintain favourable relationships with his sons. At the time, the mayor's account was met with disbelief by some. Stryker argued that those who did not believe the mayor's rationale most likely had a family identity that was low in their salience hierarchy. This explained the identities that are ranked highest are most likely to be invoked in situations that involve different aspects of the self. In other words, without identity salience, we’re “lost” in our roles.

Lastly, personally I think one of the biggest problems people have with their personal identity is that they may not accept or may be blind to who they are and what they believe. Most of us today suffer from this to a certain extent because society seems to want us to behave and live in ways which may not be exactly what we want. Thus, ones self-esteem is closely related to the importance of identity to the role of that person occupy and play. This also indicates that the first step towards higher self-esteem is to be clear about who “you” are and what “you” believe. This is the goal of self awareness. Before we can improve our self esteem or indeed make any positive changes to our life, we need to devote time to this form of self improvement. Therefore, understanding our personal identity is a necessary first step and only after this step we can start thinking about how to change our life positively. Next, once we understand who and what we are and what values we hold, we will be able to make better decisions, which move us closer to where we want to be. For instance, people who accept themselves as they are and based upon their values are happier and have higher self-esteem; likewise those who are very competitive often are unhappy people with low self esteem. I truly believe that your self-esteem depends on you being yourself and if you live true to your nature and values you will help yourself, but often we go after things that we persuade ourselves will be good for us. In sum, ignoring who you are is a recipe for pain and misery, so why not follow your personal identity and let it guide you to a better place?
Conclusion:
In conclusion, self-identity is an important dimension of social role. In related to that, an identity is about how we perceive ourselves in relation to our family members, our social circle, our gender, and our beliefs. In the same way, it is also about how we perceive and value others. In additional, identity is a social construct defined by our social relationships formed in the past, present and future; Memories and others’ expectations help to shape our identity. And if one never had interaction with another human being, that person probably would not have much of an identity. As a result, he or she might be a human in term of physiologically-speaking, but not a being that exists in the social realm which grounds much of what we do day-to-day. In short, it is about personal worth and self-esteem. Therefore, without an identity we will be placed in total and utter isolation from the society.

(Words in total: 1917)

References: 1. Andreassi, Desrochers & Thompson citing Burke & Reitzes in Identity Theory entry: Burke, P. J. & Reitzes, D. C. (1981). The link between identity and role performance. Social Psychology Quarterly, 44, 83-92.

2. Crocker J, Major B.(1989) Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of stigma. Psychological Review. 1989; 96:608–630.

3. Cast, A. D., & Burke, P. J. (1999). Integrating self-esteem and identity theory. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Chicago, IL.

4. Ellemers N, Spears R, Doosje B. (2002) Self and social identity. Annual Review of Psychology. 2002; 53:61–183.

5. Hogg, M., Terry, D. & White, K. (1995). A tale of two theories: A critical comparison of identity theory with social identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58, 255-269.

6. Kashima, Y., Foddy, M., & Platow, M. (Eds.) (2002). Self and identity: Personal, social and symbolic. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

7. Macionis, John J.(2006) Eight Edition Society the Basics. Person Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 2006

8. Martin, G., & MacNeil, A. (2007). Define roles and resolve role conflict. Connexions,
September 7, 2007. [ONLINE] Available at: http://cnx.org/content/m14651/1.5/. 9. McCall, G., & Simmons, R. (1966). Identities and interaction. New York, NY: The Free Press.

10. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

11. Matzeder, M.E. & Krieshok, T.S. (1995). "Career self-efficacy and the prediction of work and home role salience." Journal of Career Assessment, 3(3), 331-340.

12. Stryker, S., & Serpe, (1982). Commitment, identity salience and role behavior: Theory and research example. In W. Ickes & E. S. Knowles (Eds.). Personality, Roles, and Social Behavior. New York: Springer-Verlag.

13. Wiley, M.G. (1991). Gender, work, and stress: The potential impact of role-identity salience and commitment. Sociological Quarterly 32, 495-510.

14. Wickrama, K. Conger, R., Lorenz, F. & Matthews, L. (1995). Role identity, role satisfaction, and perceived physical health. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58, 270-283.

15. Verkuyten M. (2005) The social psychology of ethnic identity. Psychology Press; 2005.

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