Chapter 12. Competition and Cooperation in Our Social Worlds

12.4 Thinking Like a Social Psychologist about Cooperation and Competition

Now that you are familiar with the factors that lead us to cooperate or compete, we hope you will use this information to be more aware of, and to guide, your own behaviors in situations of conflict. Are you now more aware of how easy it is to assume that others will compete rather than cooperate and of how events that seem to be fixed-sum may in fact be integrative? Can you see that at least some conflict is more perceived than realistic and that cooperation is frequently more advantageous to both the self and others than is competition? Does this knowledge make you think differently about how you will want to react to situations of potential conflict?

You may want to keep in mind that solutions to conflict may frequently be integrative, allowing both you or your party and the other individuals involved in the conflict to come to a mutually beneficial solution. Taking a problem-solving approach in which you keep not only your needs but also the needs of others in mind will be helpful.

You may find that you are now better able to use your social psychological knowledge to help reduce potentially dangerous situations of conflict. Social norms about morality and fairness lead us frequently to cooperate with others, but these principles may be undermined in conflict situations. Perhaps you will use your new knowledge to advocate for more cooperative positions regarding important social dilemmas, such as global warming and natural resource use. You can use the many approaches that help people cooperate to help you in this endeavor.

H5P: Test your Learning: Chapter 12 True or False Quiz

Try this true or false quiz to check your understanding of some key theories and concepts from this chapter. You can retake it as many times as you want. Good luck!

  1. Realistic group conflict theory states that intergroup conflict leads to competition over scarce resources.
  2. In social psychological research, the focus is always on intergroup, as opposed to interpersonal conflict.
  3. Procedural fairness refers to our judgments about whether or not a party is receiving a fair share of the available rewards.
  4. When individuals are considering whether or not to donate to a local public television station, this is an example of a contributions dilemma.
  5. In the dual-concern model of cooperation and competition, a yielding orientation is associated with a higher concern about other’s outcomes, and a lower concern about one’s own outcomes.


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Principles of Social Psychology - 1st International H5P Edition Copyright © 2022 by Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani and Dr. Hammond Tarry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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