ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2010, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (01): 22-36.

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Building and Testing Theories: Experiences from Conducting Social Identity Research

Ying-yi Hong;Melody Manchi Chao;Yung-Jui Yang;and Jennifer L. Rosner   

  1. 1 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

    2 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • Received:2008-11-12 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2010-01-30 Online:2010-01-30
  • Contact: Ying-yi Hong

Abstract: Theory building and testing is the core of scientific investigation. Based upon the lessons we have learned from conducting research in social identity and intergroup relations, we propose a four-step approach in building and testing psychological theories: (1) selecting phenomena: observing events that happen around us and around the world; (2) finding critical commonalities: identifying common components across the different events; (3) abstracting (theorizing): extracting the underlying psychological processes inform the observed commonalities, and relating the processes to new or existing theories; and (4) hypothesis testing: examining and testing the theories empirically. These four steps allow researchers to base their scientific investigation on real-life social events. We illustrate this four-step approach with examples from our research on hierarchical identity, identity hegemony, and bridging identity/symbol, and we suggest guidelines for conducting programmatic research in social and personality psychology.

Key words: building theories, testing theories, social identity, intergroup relations