Social Dilemmas

Social Dilemmas

Social Dilemmas

Social Dilemmas

Synopsis

Emphasizing real-world examples, Komorita and Parks illustrate both the theoretical and the ecological relevance of social dilemmas, focusing on "exchange theory" to explain how conflicts are resolved. This book is appropriate for students of psychology, political science, and sociology.

Excerpt

A social dilemma is that rare topic in psychology that appeals not only to psychologists, but also to researchers in many other disciplines : economists, sociologists, political scientists, and biologists all have done extensive work on the topic. Besides its broad appeal, the popularity of social dilemma research is growing rapidly. During the four-year period from 1976 to 1980, a total of 6 psychological (behavioral) studies of social dilemmas were published; from 1981 to 1985, 33 were published; and from 1986 to 1990, 51 were published.

Our purpose in writing this book is to provide a summary and integration of the psychological research, and to introduce readers to some of the work being done in other disciplines. The question that occupies most psychologists working in this area is, "How can we encourage people to be more cooperative?" This is the basic theme of our book and we shall attempt to answer this question for a variety of social dilemma situations.

Research on social dilemmas is also important because they are so pervasive. Throughout the book, we shall give many real‐ world examples of social dilemma situations. Social psychology is sometimes criticized for studying abstract questions that have little relevance to society. By contrast, many of the findings we shall report (derived from laboratory experimentation) are directly adaptable to real-life dilemmas. This is not to say that the techniques designed to improve cooperation (discussed in this book) can be easily implemented in the real world; however, it would certainly be possible to test some of them in an actual dilemma setting. The study of social dilemmas thus has ecological as well as theoretical relevance.

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