Recent research (Hogg & Turner, 1985a, b) favours a social identity rather than group cohesiveness analysis of group behaviour and psychological group formation. It is argued that individual behaviour is transformed into group behaviour by the cognitive process of self‐categorization, and that the content of the behaviour depends upon the particular social categorization being employed. The present article examines self‐categorization theory by experimentally varying sex‐category salience for 60 male and 60 female British university students, and monitoring the effects on self‐stereotyping (self‐description in terms of an individual's situation‐specific own‐sex stereotype) and other behavioural and evaluative measures of group behaviour. It was predicted that under conditions theoretically expected to accentuate the salience of sex (intersex collective encounter as opposed to intrasex dyadic encounter), self‐categorization, self‐stereotyping and group behaviour should occur, and that the specific content of this behaviour would be predictable from the nature of the social relations between the sexes. The results revealed that increased salience was associated with self‐categorization and self‐stereotyping, and that under these conditions males were less ethnocentric and experienced higher self‐esteem than females. These findings are consistent with the hypotheses, and thus provide evidence for both self‐categorization theory and the related salience hypothesis upon which the experimental operationalization of salience was based. Suggestions are made for further research.
British Journal of Social Psychology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1987
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