Social Identity Mapping


Social Identity Mapping is a tool for self-reflection, team-building, and exploring identity issues in various settings. It involves creating a visual representation of an individual's social identities, typically using concentric circles to categorize core, chosen, and given identities. This activity can be used in educational contexts to help students understand themselves and explore diversity, in workplaces for team-building and promoting inclusivity, and in community settings to foster understanding among diverse groups.


This is a tool that can be used for self-reflection, team-building, and exploring issues of identity in schools, workplaces, and community settings. It can be used for promoting awareness, fostering relationships and inclusivity, and addressing issues related to diversity and social conflict.   Education:
  • Students: To help students understand themselves, explore identity and diversity, and promote discussions on conflict and belonging.
  • Teaming: The tool can be used as an icebreaker to help people get to know one another and form a sense of connection and mutual respect. 
  • Team-building: To foster a social connection by raising awareness about individual histories.
  • Coaching: Social Identity Maps can be used to understand a coachee’s history, values, and aspirations.  
  • Diversity and Inclusion: The tool can be used to facilitate discussions and activities that promote understanding of diversity, inclusivity, values, and culture.
  • Community Representatives: To promote understanding and cooperation among diverse community members and address issues related to beliefs, culture, values, and experiences.


Social Identity Mapping is used to visually represent the identities of individuals within a group or society. Social identity refers to the part of an individual's self-concept that is derived from their membership in various social groups. These groups can include categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, occupation, and more. The mapping involves creating a chart that illustrates the various social groups to which an individual belongs and the importance of these relationships. The chart is a tool for reflection and conversation on how these social identities impact an individual's perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and interactions with others. Use a pre-printed form (see links) or a blank sheet of paper and have participants draw a visual with three concentric circles. The facilitator can draw a sample on a whiteboard or flipchart. The three circles from the inside-out represent:
  • Core Identity (Central Ring) - Who are you at your core? These are things that are the most important to your identity such as values and things that most define you.  
  • Chosen Identity (Middle Ring) – Things that you have chosen. This may be your profession, the place you live, the hobbies you have, the food and entertainment you like, etc. These are things that often represent your interests by choice. 
  • Given Identity (Outer Ring) – Aspects of your identity that were given to you, such as birthplace, birth family, education, appearance, etc. 

Sample Activity

Give participants about 5-7 minutes to complete their map. Encourage them to write at least 7-8 elements in each domain but as many attributes as they can. Ask them to circle or start elements that have been the most influential in their lives.  The maps can be debriefed and explored in many ways: You can have people pair up or share in triads. Each person shares their map in turn and explains the importance of the elements and why and how they have influenced them. Participants can mark things that they have in common or that are unique. The participants in the small groups can then be invited to summarize their conversations and learnings to the whole group, as time allows.  The facilitator can ask questions to draw out learning such as what surprised you? How did your given identity shape you and your life choices? Often aspects of identity, such as core values or past histories, may not be readily visible. Individuals will also find things that they hold in common that they may not have been aware of, such as siblings and interests (see links below for more background). The facilitator can use the activity to explore issues of uniqueness, difference, commonality, and relationship. Usually, participants who have shared in pairs or small groups will feel a sense of commonality and respect because they see each other more fully. The tool can also be used to open up issues of identity difference and how these can be the result of socialization and that difference can be the basis for separation and conflict. The tool also can be used to show how differences can be transcended by building on commonalities and respect for differences that often shaped by our histories. 


Social Identity Mapping came from social psychology, sociology, and education. The specific tool described here was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership (

Target Audience:

  • Students
  • Employees
  • Teams

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