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Social Psychology by David G. Myers 8th Edition
Conflict & Peacemaking
Social Dilemmas Create Conflict
The Prisoners’ Dilemma
The Tragedy of the Commons
Non-Zero-Sum Games
Resolving Social Dilemmas

Tragedy of the Commons
Let’s play the game:
You can have either $20 or $100 just for the asking!
Fill out a slip of paper saying which amount you want and pass it in.
BUT, the only rule is that if more than 20% of the class asks for $100, nobody gets anything.
Non-Zero-Sum Games
Unlike football games, in most real-life situations, the gains and losses do NOT add up to zero. In other words, there are few win-lose situations in life.
Many situations have costs associated with pursuing own self-interest (prisoners’ dilemma), or pit the interests of the individual against the interests of the group (tragedy of the commons).
Many real-life situations can be win-win situations (with cooperation) or lose-lose situations (with competition).
The Dollar Auction
Let’s play!
I will sell a dollar bill to the highest bidder.
The only rule is that the two highest bidders have to pay ME whatever they bid.
Resolving Social Dilemmas
Regulation (force people to do their share, such as paying taxes, or to cooperate, such as arms limitations treaties)
Make the group small so each individual is aware of impact on the group and identifies with the group’s success.
Communication (increases trust and cooperation)
Change the payoffs to reward cooperation (for example, incentives to carpoolers)
Appeal to altruistic norms of reciprocity & social responsibility
Other Causes of Conflict – Competition
Competition (for scarce resources) fuels conflict
Competition also accentuates perceived differences
Competition triggers aggressive behavior (Sherif’s famous Robber’s Cave study)

Other Causes of Conflict – Perceived Injustice
Perceived injustice
We believe in equity (everyone’s rewards should be proportional to their contributions).
Those who have more may convince themselves that they deserve it.
Exploited people may (1) accept & justify their treatment, (2) demand compensation, or (3) try to restore equity by retaliating.
Other Causes of Conflict - Misperception
Mirror-image perceptions: Those in conflict have similar misperceptions, attributing similar virtues to themselves & similar vices to others.
Simplistic thinking: As tension rises, views of the other become more simplistic, dualistic, & stereotyped.
Shifting perceptions: An indicator of the extent of misperception is the way in which perceptions shift when the conflict is resolved.
Misperceptions & Peacemaking
Peacemaking—The Four C’s
Does desegregation improve racial attitudes? The evidence is mixed.
When does desegregation improve racial attitudes?
Frequency of contact, prolonged contact that leads to friendship.
Equal-status contact

Common external threats
Superordinate goals
Cooperative learning
Group and superordinate identities

Bargaining: seeking an agreement through direct negotiation between the parties
Mediation: attempt by neutral third party to resolve conflict by facilitating communication and offering suggestions
Arbitration: resolution of a conflict by a neutral third party who studies both sides and imposes a settlement
Conciliation – useful when communication and resolution are impossible because of tension and mistrust
Unconditional unilateral cooperation does not work & often leads to exploitation.
GRIT: “graduated & reciprocated initiatives in tension reduction” – strategy to de-escalate international tensions

Prisoner’s Dilemma