Theories of coalition formation and the effects of reference groups

J. Keith Murnighan*, S. S. Komorita, Eugene Szwajkowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The predictions of four theories of coalition behavior were compared to the results obtained from three coalition games conducted under two reference group conditions. Participants were given a set to use a reference group composed either of the other players in their experimental session or of players in other groups in the same position as themselves ("similar others"). While the different games had an impact on the accuracy of the theoretical predictions, the data as a whole tended to support Bargaining theory (Komorita & Chertkoff, 1973) and the Weighted Probability model (Komorita, 1974) over Minimum Resource theory (Gamson, 1961) and Minimum Power theory (Shapley & Shubik, 1954). The results also indicated that a reference group of "similar others" led to more accurate theoretical predictions and to higher payoffs for the powerful player in each of the games, even though his demands were higher in these conditions. The use of four-person coalition games in coalition research was also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-181
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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