Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Group and intergroup processes

Social identification effects in social dilemmas (1999)

De Cremer, D., & Van Vugt, M. (1999). Social identification effects in social dilemmas: A transformation of motives. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 871-893. 



Three experimental studies were conducted to examine two alternative explanations for the widely established positive effect of social identification in promoting cooperation in social dilemmas. We hypothesised that social identification effects could be either ascribed to (1) an increase in the value assigned to the collective good (i.e. goal- transformation hypothesis) or (2) an enhancement of trust in the cooperation of other group members (i.e. goal-amplification hypothesis). To disentangle these two explanations, we examined the effects of social identification on the contributions to a public good of people with a different social value orientation (i.e. pre-existing differences in preferred outcome distribution between self and others). Following the goal trans- formation hypothesis, we predicted that an increased group identification would raise contributions, in particular for people essentially concerned with their personal welfare (i.e. pro-self value orientation). Alternatively, following the goal amplification hypo- thesis it was expected that increased group identification would primarily affect decisions of people concerned with the collective welfare (i.e. prosocial value orientation). The results of all three studies provided support for the goal-transformation rather than goal-amplification hypothesis, suggesting that 'selfish' individuals can be encouraged to cooperate by increasing the salience of their group membership.


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