Maximization of Absolute vs. Relative Gains in Intergroup Conflicts
27 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2008
Date Written: November 9, 2008
What motivates individual self-sacrificial behavior in intergroup conflicts? Is it the altruistic desire to help the ingroup or the aggressive drive to hurt the outgroup? This paper introduces a new game paradigm, the Intergroup Prisoner's Dilemma - Maximizing Difference (IPD-MD) game, designed specifically to distinguish between these two motives. The game involves two groups. Each group member is given a monetary endowment and can decide how much of it to contribute. Contribution can be made to either of two pools, one which benefits the ingroup at a personal cost, and another which, in addition, harms the outgroup. An experiment demonstrated that contributions in the IPD-MD game are made almost exclusively to the cooperative within-group pool. Moreover, pre-play intragroup communication increases intragroup cooperation but not intergroup competition. These results are compared with those observed in the Intergroup Prisoner's Dilemma (IPD) game, where group members' contributions are restricted to the competitive between-group pool.
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