Cooperation Competition and Conflict
578 Chapter 14 Social Psychology question. Some researchers dispute the claim that this study illustrated truly altruistic helping. They suggest instead that people help in such situations for more selﬁsh reasons, such as relieving the distress they experienced after hearing of the woman’s problems (Maner et al., 2002). The ﬁnal verdict on this question is not yet in. Evolutionary Theory The evolutionary approach to psychology offers a third way to explain helping. According to this approach, many human social behaviors are a reﬂection of actions that contributed to the survival of our prehistoric ancestors (Buss, 2003). At ﬁrst glance, it might not seem reasonable to apply evolutionary theory to helping and altruism, because helping others at the risk of our own well-being does not appear adaptive. If we die while trying to save others, it will be their genes, not ours, that will survive. In fact, according to Darwin’s concept of the “survival of the ﬁttest,” helpers—and their genes—should have disappeared long ago. Today’s evolutionary theorists suggest, however, that Darwin’s thinking about natural selection focused too much on the survival of the ﬁttest individuals and not enough on the survival of their genes in others. Accordingly, the concept of survival of the ﬁttest has been replaced by the concept of inclusive ﬁtness, the survival of one’s genes in future generations (Hamilton, 1964; Kruger, 2003). Because we share genes with our relatives, helping—or even dying for—a cousin, a sibling, or, above all, our own child increases the likelihood that at least some of our genetic characteristics will be passed on to the next generation through the beneﬁciary’s future reproduction. So kin selection, or helping a relative to survive, may produce genetic beneﬁts for the helper even if it provides no personal beneﬁts (Kruger, 2003). There is considerable evidence that kin selection occurs among birds, squirrels, and other animals. The more closely the animals are related, the more likely they are to risk their lives for one another. Studies in a wide variety of cultures show the same pattern of helping among humans (Buss, 2003). For example, people in the United States are three times as likely to donate a kidney to a relative as to a nonrelative (Borgida, Conner, & Monteufel, 1992). (See “In Review: Helping Behavior” for a summary of the major reasons why people help and the conditions under which they are most likely to do so.) Cooperation, Competition, and Conﬂict cooperation Any type of behavior in which people work together to attain a goal. competition Any type of behavior in which individuals try to attain a goal for themselves while denying that goal to others. conﬂict What occurs when a person or group believes that another person or group interferes with the attainment of a goal. social dilemmas Situations in which actions that produce rewards for one individual will produce negative consequences if they are adopted by everyone. Helping is one of several ways in which people cooperate with one another. Cooperation is any type of behavior in which people work together to attain a goal (Penner et al., 2005b). For example, several law students might form a study group to help one another pass the bar exam. But people also compete with others for limited resources. Those same students might later try to outdo one another to be chosen for a single job opening at a top law ﬁrm. Competition exists whenever individuals try to reach a goal themselves while denying that goal to others. Finally, there is conﬂict, which occurs when a person or group believes that another person or group interferes with the attainment of a goal. When the law students become attorneys and represent opposing parties in a trial, they will be in conﬂict with one another. One way in which psychologists have learned about all three of these phenomena is by studying social dilemmas (Weber, Kopelman, & Messick, 2004). Social dilemmas are situations in which an action that is most rewarding for each individual will, if adopted by all others in the situation, create problems for everyone (Dawes & Messick, 2000). For instance, during a drought, each homeowner is better off in the short run by watering the lawn as often as necessary to keep it from dying; but if everyone ignores local water restrictions, there will be no drinking water for anyone in the long run. Social dilemmas reﬂect conﬂicts between the interests of the individual and those of the group and between short-term and long-term interests (Schroeder, 1995). Are people from collectivist cultures (which emphasize cooperation) less likely to act competitively or selﬁshly in social dilemma situations? In general, they may be, but interpersonal conﬂict in such situations still appears to some extent in all cultures (Smith & Bond, 1999).