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Cooperation and Conflict within Groups: Bridging Intragroup and Intergroup Processes


  • John F. Dovidio, Tamar Saguy, and Nurit Shnabel made unique contributions to the work. Their names are presented in alphabetical order. This article was supported by NSF Grant # BCS-0613218 awarded to the first author and by a Fellowship from the Fulbright Foundation awarded to the third author.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to John F. Dovidio, Department of Psychology, Yale University, 2 Hillhouse Avenue, P.O. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520 [e-mail:].


Whereas intragroup processes and intergroup relations are often assumed to reflect discrete processes and cooperation and conflict to represent alternative outcomes, the present article focuses on intergroup dynamics within a shared group identity and challenges traditional views of cooperation and conflict primarily as the respective positive and negative outcomes of these dynamics. Drawing on the ideas, theories, and evidence presented in other articles in this volume, we (1) consider the dynamic tension between stability and change that exists within hierarchical groups; (2) discuss the different perspectives that advantaged and disadvantaged subgroups within a larger group have regarding this tension; (3) propose that cooperation and conflict should be viewed as developmental processes in the life of a group; (4) suggest that constructive resolution of conflict depends upon whether subgroups manage to satisfy the different needs of each group, and (5) conclude by discussing the personal, social, and policy implications of this perspective.