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Social motives in intergroup conflict: Group identity and perceived target of threat

Social motives in intergroup conflict: Group identity and perceived target of threat

Ori Weisel and Ro'i Zultan

Conventional knowledge across the social sciences states that the presence of, or potential for, conflict between groups increases cooperation within groups.

In his Nottingham School of Economics working paper, published in the European Economic Review, Ori Weisel and Ro'i Zultan experimentally test the social motives that drive individual group members to contribute to their group (at a personal cost) in the context of intergroup conflict, by manipulating the perceived target of threat - groups or individuals - and the symmetry of conflict.

Behaviour in conflict depends on whether one is harmed by actions perpetrated by the out-group, but not on one's own influence on the outcome of the out-group. The perceived target of threat dramatically alters decisions to participate in conflict. When people perceive their group to be under threat, they are mobilized to do what is good for the group and contribute to the conflict. On the other hand, if people perceive to be personally under threat, they are driven to do what is good for themselves and withhold their contribution. The first phenomenon is attributed to group identity, possibly combined with a concern for social welfare. The second phenomenon is attributed to a novel victim effect. Another social motive - reciprocity - is ruled out by the data.

European Economic Review, "Social motives in intergroup conflict: Group identity and perceived target of threat", by Ori Weisel and Ro'i Zultan.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2016.01.004

 

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Posted on Tuesday 1st March 2016

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