Research examining the relationship between the allocentrism–ideocentrism cultural variable and cooperation in social dilemmas is inconsistent. This relationship is considered in the context of social values within the prisoner's dilemma (PDG) in two studies. We hypothesised that allocentrics (relative to ideocentrics) would more likely express the social value of minimising differences rather than maximising joint outcomes. In Study 1 the hypothesis was supported. Study 2, including British and Malaysian respondents, replicated and extended these results to rankings of PDG outcomes. These findings are integrated with previous research, in particular to explain mixed results concerning allocentrism and cooperation. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.