Intergroup competition and its effect on intragroup and intergroup relations


  • The authors are indebted to Dr. Dean Pruitt for his many helpful suggestions regarding the preliminary draft of this article. We would also like to thank Mr. K. Mettes and Mr. M. de Brey for their assistance in the development, and data analysis, of this experiment.


Seventy-two male subjects from lower technical schools were divided into groups of three and assigned to three conditions in which they expected to work together in competition with another group, to work together but independently of the other group, or did not anticipate to work together at all.

Subjects who anticipated working together showed a more favorable attitude toward their group and its members than subjects who did not. Moreover, actual social interaction increased in-group attractiveness.

Intergroup competition led to a more differentiated leadership structure and a greater consensus about the distribution of influence in the group.

Contrary to our predictions, intergroup competition produced no greater in-group solidarity, nor any over-evaluation of the group's product.

Low influence persons felt comparatively more positive about their group even before they actually had the opportunity to work together. An attempt was made to relate this finding to the ordinal position of the low status figure, his affiliative tendencies under stress, and his greater social dependence.