Intergroup attitudes and competition over limited resources




Major, Kasia

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According to realistic conflict theory (RCT), people develop negative attitudes towards others as a result of competition with those others over limited resources. I hypothesized that participants would change their opinions of others in a greater negative direction if those others were competitive in resource use than if those others are cooperative. Additionally, I hypothesized that the participants' own resource use would influence how they changed their opinions of the others. Participants were asked to complete a ten-item trait-rating questionnaire before and after competing in a simulated fishing environment against a simulated group that fished either a little (cooperative opponent) or a lot (competitive opponent). As predicted, when fishing against competitive opponents, participants changed their ratings in a more negative direction than when fishing against cooperative opponents. In addition, participants' own fishing behaviour influenced some of their rating shifts. I discuss an alternative explanation of the results as based on group identity processes (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), and suggest that the effects of such processes should be directly compared with competition over resources in the same study. Limitations of the study are discussed along with potential solutions.



competition, intergroup relations, human behavior, conflict, interpersonal relations