What Social Psychology Theory Promotes Equity?


Vincent White

Social psychology is a fascinating field that delves into the intricate dynamics of human behavior in social settings. One of the fundamental principles that social psychology theory promotes is equity, which emphasizes fairness and justice in how individuals are treated. In this article, we will explore some key social psychology theories that advocate for equity and discuss their implications.

Theory of Social Comparison

In 1954, psychologist Leon Festinger proposed the theory of social comparison. According to this theory, individuals have an innate drive to evaluate themselves by comparing their abilities, opinions, and qualities with those of others. Festinger argued that people engage in this process to gain an accurate assessment of their own worth and abilities.

Equity Implication: The theory of social comparison supports the idea that individuals strive for equity by comparing themselves to others. They seek fairness in terms of their abilities, achievements, and rewards. When people perceive inequity, it can lead to feelings of resentment or superiority.

Attribution Theory

The attribution theory explores how individuals interpret and explain the causes of behavior. According to psychologist Fritz Heider’s seminal work in 1958, people tend to attribute behavior either to internal factors (such as personal traits) or external factors (such as situational influences).

Equity Implication: Attribution theory contributes to equity promotion by emphasizing fair judgments about others’ behavior. It encourages individuals to consider both internal and external factors when evaluating others’ actions. By recognizing situational influences on behavior rather than solely attributing it to personal traits, equity can be achieved.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Cognitive dissonance theory was developed by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957. This theory suggests that when individuals experience conflicting thoughts or beliefs, they experience psychological discomfort, known as cognitive dissonance. To alleviate this discomfort, people strive to maintain consistency between their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.

Equity Implication: Cognitive dissonance theory aligns with equity promotion by encouraging individuals to align their thoughts and actions with fairness. When someone realizes that their behavior is inconsistent with principles of equity, they may experience cognitive dissonance. This can motivate them to change their behavior to restore a sense of fairness.

Self-Determination Theory

The self-determination theory, developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in the 1980s, focuses on individuals’ intrinsic motivation and the satisfaction of basic psychological needs. It proposes that people are driven by the need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Equity Implication: The self-determination theory emphasizes the importance of satisfying individuals’ basic psychological needs for equity promotion. When these needs are met in social interactions or relationships, individuals feel a sense of fairness and fulfillment. Conversely, when these needs are not fulfilled, it can lead to feelings of inequity or unfair treatment.

Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory was developed by psychologist Henri Tajfel in the 1970s. This theory explores how individuals develop a sense of identity based on their group membership and how this influences their behavior and attitudes towards others.

Equity Implication: Social identity theory highlights the role of group membership in equity promotion. It suggests that individuals tend to favor their own group over others (in-group bias). To achieve equity, it is essential to recognize and address biases that can lead to unfair treatment based on group identities.

In conclusion,

Social psychology theories play a crucial role in promoting equity by providing insights into human behavior, attitudes, and motivations. The theories discussed in this article highlight the importance of fairness, justice, and the need to address biases for achieving equity. Understanding these theories can help individuals foster more equitable interactions and create a more just society.