Toolkit logo
Foto: MRA

The identity exercise

There are many types of belonging and different personal qualities, and that is what makes people unique individuals. Even though this is true, we often make groups in society based on only one quality.

Photo: MRA

Quick facts

Human rights • Culture and identity • Negative social control
Youth school • High school • Adult education • Organizations and others
Ca 30 minutes
Materials: A list of different features (characteristics or properties) that are part of a person’s identity.

Activity goals

  • To reflect on the fact that we are all are complex individuals, and that is why it can be wrong or unfair to only focus on one type of belonging or one special feature.
For many years the Human Rights Academy has used this exercise as a gateway to such topics as discrimination and intercultural understanding.


  • The group stands in a large ring around the facilitator in the middle of the room. If there are many participants, they can be seated and stand up when the different qualities are called out.
  • The facilitator calls out a type of belonging or feature that is part of a person’s identity. The type of belonging may refer to gender, nationality, interests, status, physical characteristics, hobbies or many other things. Good examples are: athlete, has a sibling, has green eyes, is religious, likes chocolate cake, is not interested in soccer, is in love, is active in politics, wears glasses or plays a musical instrument.
  • When the facilitator says, for example, “has brown eyes”, everyone with brown eyes enters the ring. When everyone has seen who they are, they can step back/return to their seat. It is important that the facilitator calls out many different and varied types of belonging and qualities.


  • What do you think about this exercise? Why do you think we did this?
  • Did you learn something new about each other?
  • Did you learn something new about yourselves?
  • Are some identities more frequently emphasised than others? In which contexts do we do this? Is this right and fair?


We are all complex individuals with many types of belonging and qualities. There are many ingredients that go into making us who we are and shape our identity. Our different types of belonging are activated in different situations. Sometimes the types of belonging and identities we do not like are highlighted. Perhaps I might also point out qualities in other people they do not want me to emphasise. Our various types of belonging make us unique and irreplaceable individuals.