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.
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