Cohesion and Respect: An Examination of Group Decision Making in Social and Escalation Dilemmas

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-311
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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