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Cohesion and respect: An examination of group decision making in social and escalation dilemmas, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


Our experiment analyzes situations in which a group engages in two dilemmas, a social dilemma and an escalation dilemma, in one of two orders. Some of the groups were composed of long-time friends (high cohesion); other groups were composed of unacquainted individuals (low cohesion). Further, some were accorded high respect from relevant authorities; in contrast, others were not treated with respect. Groups of friends were more likely to cooperate by contributing to a greater degree in the social dilemma task than were groups of nonfriends. Groups high in cohesion but low in respect were more likely to escalate their commitment to a losing course of action in an escalation dilemma compared to other groups. There appear to be two distinct types of group identity: one based on cohesion and the other based on respect. Cohesion-based identity remained high and relatively constant across the two tasks among groups of friends, but declined over time among groups of nonfriends. Both cohesion-based identity and respect-based identity dropped precipitously following social dilemma tasks, but increased consistently following escalation dilemmas.




Leigh Thompson, Laura J. Kray, E.Allan Lind

Date Published



Thompson, Leigh, Laura J. Kray, and E.Allan Lind. 1998. Cohesion and respect: An examination of group decision making in social and escalation dilemmas. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 34(3): 289-311.


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