Norms and Cohesion as Adaptive Responses to Potential Conflict: An Experimental Study

  • Bonacich P
  • 19


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 35


    Citations of this article.


The Prisoners' Dilemma (PD) game is a prototype of two central concerns of sociology, the problem of order and the problem of collective action, which are both types of conflict between individual and collective goals. An index of dilemma, D, is developed to characterize situations with respect to the degree of conflict between individual and collective goals. It is hypothesized that group norms and group solidarity are mechanisms groups devise to increase cooperation in PD-like situations. In an experiment using a five-person PD game, it is shown that an increase in D leads to an increase in group friendlines and in attempts by group members to define the potential noncooperator as immoral and untrustworthy. Thus, and increase in the potential for conflict within groups can lead to strengthened group norms and cohesion if this conflict is of the sort described by the Prisoners' Dilemma. This is contrary to the prevalent conception that norms arise from an identity of interests between group members.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Phillip Bonacich

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free