Many people gain a sense of positive self-esteem from their identity groups, which furthers a sense of community and belonging. Another issue that researchers have attempted to address is the question of why people engage in discrimination, i.e., why they tend to favor those they consider a part of their "in-group" over those considered to be outsiders. Both questions have been given extensive attention by researchers working in the social identity tradition. For example, in work relating to social identity theory it has been shown that merely crafting cognitive distinction between in- and out-groups can lead to subtle effects on people's evaluations of others.
Different social situations also compel people to attach themselves to different self-identities which may cause some to feel marginalized, thus traveling between different groups and self-identifications. These different selves lead to constructed images dichotomized between what people want to be (the ideal self) and how others see them (the limited self). Educational background and Occupational status and roles significantly influence identity formation in this regard.
Identity formation strategies
Another issue of interest in social psychology is related to the notion that there are certain identity formation strategies which a person may use to adapt to the social world. (, pp. 3–5) developed a typology which investigated the different manners of behavior that individuals may have. (3) Their typology includes:
|Psychological symptoms||Personality symptoms||Social symptoms|
|Refuser||Develops cognitive blocks that prevent adoption of adult role-schemas||Engages in childlike behavior||Shows extensive dependency upon others and no meaningful engagement with the community of adults|
|Drifter||Possesses greater psychological resources than the Refuser (i.e., intelligence, charisma)||Is apathetic toward application of psychological resources||Has no meaningful engagement with or commitment to adult communities|
|Searcher||Has a sense of dissatisfaction due to high personal and social expectations||Shows disdain for imperfections within the community||Interacts to some degree with role-models, but ultimately these relationships are abandoned|
|Guardian||Possesses clear personal values and attitudes, but also a deep fear of change||Sense of personal identity is almost exhausted by sense of social identity||Has an extremely rigid sense of social identity and strong identification with adult communities|
|Resolver||Consciously desires self-growth||Accepts personal skills and competencies and uses them actively||Is responsive to communities that provide opportunity for self-growth|