The Social Categorisation Theory is a phenomenon that explains how individuals classify and group people based on their characteristics and traits. This theory is an integral part of social psychology and helps understand the way people perceive others and their behavior towards them.

What is Social Categorisation?

Social categorisation refers to the process of grouping individuals into categories based on their shared characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, etc. This categorization helps simplify the complex social world around us by creating distinct groups. However, this process can also lead to stereotyping and discrimination against individuals who don’t fit into our predefined categories.

How does Social Categorisation Theory work?

According to the Social Categorisation Theory, individuals tend to categorize people into in-groups (people similar to themselves) and out-groups (people different from themselves). This classification leads to a distinction between “us” versus “them.”

People tend to identify with their in-group members more and develop a positive bias towards them. Simultaneously, they view out-group members negatively or with suspicion.

Examples of Social Categorisation Theory

One of the classic examples of social categorization theory is racial discrimination. People often associate certain races with specific traits or behaviors, leading to stereotyping.

For instance, Asians are considered good at math or technology; African Americans are athletic while Caucasians are intelligent. These associations may lead to prejudice against individuals who do not conform to these stereotypes.

Another example is gender discrimination. Women are often categorized as caregivers and men as breadwinners. The expectations attached to these roles can lead to gender-based biases that hinder women’s growth in several fields.

The Impact of Social Categorisation

Social categorization can have both positive and negative effects on society. On one hand, it helps create a sense of belongingness among individuals sharing similar traits or characteristics; it also promotes social identity. On the other hand, it can lead to discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping against individuals who do not fit into our predefined categories.


The Social Categorisation Theory helps understand how individuals create groups and categorize people based on shared characteristics. While this process can have positive effects, it can also lead to prejudice and discrimination against individuals who do not fit into these categories. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the impact of social categorization and work towards creating an inclusive society where diversity is celebrated rather than stigmatized.