Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

United We Stand: When Cooperation Butts Heads With Competition

Date:
May 1, 2008
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Phrases such as "survival of the fittest" and "every man for himself" may seem to accentuate the presence of political and social competition in American culture; however, there obviously are similar instances of inter- and intra-group conflict across almost all known organisms. So what makes competition so prevalent for life and why does it sometimes seem to be preferred over cooperation?

Phrases such as “survival of the fittest” and “every man for himself” may seem to accentuate the presence of political and social competition in American culture; however, there obviously are similar instances of inter- and intra-group conflict across almost all known organisms. So what makes competition so prevalent for life and why does it sometimes seem to be preferred over cooperation?

Psychologists Nir Halevy, Gary Bornstein and Lilach Sagiv from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem have taken a step closer to answering those questions with a recent study exploring individual preferences for inter-group conflict or intra-group cohesiveness in humans.

Participants were divided into two groups and presented with a set of 10 tokens, each worth two money units (MU), and a scenario: each individual can contribute any number of tokens into two pools, the within-group pool (pool W) or the between-group pool (pool B). Contributing a token to pool W increases everyone’s stash, including the contributor, by one MU without affecting the other group, whereas contributing to pool B adds one MU to everyone’s collection in the in-group and subtracts one MU from the out-group’s supplies.

Therefore, the participants have a clear choice to either contribute to the in-group without harming anyone, or actively choosing to damage the out-group.

Previous studies on the topic indicated that individuals would often choose to compete with any opposing group; however, the game used to measure those studies failed to give participants the option of leaving the other group alone. Specifically, the only choices were to keep all of the tokens or to give tokens to the in-group while subtracting tokens from the out-group. By adding the new option of keeping all money within the in-group, the psychologists allowed participants to strengthen their own group without damaging the other.

In the authors’ words: “Contributing to pool W clearly indicates a cooperative motivation to benefit the in-group without hurting the out-group. Contributing to pool B, in contrast, indicates an aggressive motivation to hurt the out-group, or a competitive motivation to increase the in-group’s advantage over the out-group.”

The results, which appear in the April issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, surprisingly reveal that the individuals preferred contributing to pool W, choosing cooperation over competition, when given the option to do so. Furthermore, those individuals who were allowed to consult with one another before the game showed an increase in their preference to cooperate.

It appears, therefore, that participants much preferred avoiding conflict when given the option to strengthen their own group instead. But this still leaves behind yet another question of group dynamics: why, if humans prefer cooperation when given that option, are there so many instances of competition shown in everyday life?


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "United We Stand: When Cooperation Butts Heads With Competition." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430103102.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2008, May 1). United We Stand: When Cooperation Butts Heads With Competition. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430103102.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "United We Stand: When Cooperation Butts Heads With Competition." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430103102.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins