Getting Even vs. Being the Odd One Out: Conflict and Cohesion in Even and Odd Sized Groups

31 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008

Date Written: November 9, 2008


Contrary to people's intuitive theories about even and odd numbers and groups, this paper argues that odd-sized groups are often more harmonious than even-sized groups. Study 1 found that people view even numbers more favorably than odd numbers and predict that even-sized groups are more peaceful than odd-sized groups. However, Study 2 found that three- and four-person groups without conflict did not differ, but three-person groups with coalitions (two vs. one) produced more positive relationships than four-person groups with coalitions (both two vs. two and three vs. one). Finally, Study 3 involved a natural experiment at Harvard University, and found that White freshmen assigned to odd-sized rooming groups (three or five persons) maintained relationships with White roommates more than did White freshman assigned to even-sized rooming groups (four or six persons), but these patterns did not emerge when Whites roomed with Asians and Blacks. We suggest that a group's even or odd size is an important situational variable that affects its coalitional structure, conflict management, and cohesion.

Suggested Citation

Menon, Tanya and Williams Phillips, Katherine, Getting Even vs. Being the Odd One Out: Conflict and Cohesion in Even and Odd Sized Groups (November 9, 2008). IACM 21st Annual Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Tanya Menon (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Katherine Williams Phillips

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics