Research on interindividual–intergroup discontinuity has illuminated distinct patterns of cognition, motivation, and behavior in interindividual versus intergroup contexts. However, it has examined these processes in laboratory environments with perfect transparency, whereas real-life interactions are often characterized by noise (i.e., misperceptions and unintended errors). This research compared interindividual and intergroup interactions in the presence or absence of noise. In a laboratory experiment, participants played 35 rounds of a dyadic give-some dilemma, in which they acted as individuals or group representatives. Noise was manipulated, such that players’ intentions either were perfectly translated into behavior or could deviate from their intentions in certain rounds (resulting in less cooperative behavior). Noise was more detrimental to cooperation in intergroup contexts than in interindividual contexts, because (a) participants who formed benign impressions of the other player coped better with noise, and (b) participants were less likely to form such benign impressions in intergroup than interindividual interactions.

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Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
Erasmus School of Law

Reinders Folmer, C., Wildschut, T., de Cremer, D., & van Lange, P. (2017). Coping with noise in social dilemmas: Group representatives fare worse than individuals because they lack trust in others’ benign intentions. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations. doi:10.1177/1368430217722036