Motivational bases in mixed-motive interactions: The effects of comparison levels

Nehemia Friedland, Susan E. Arnold, John Thibaut*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between reward level and the basic motives which underlie strategic choices (competitive and noncompetitive) in a mixed-motive game was examined from two theoretical perspectives. The "regret" interpretation proposed by McClintock and McNeel was compared to an approach based upon Thibout and Kelley's concept of comparison level (CL). Two independent variables, CL and Reward, were manipulated by varying the payoff rates in two playing series of the MDG. Initially, 50 iterations were played for high (4¢ per point) or low ( 1 5¢ per point) incentive to provide subjects with outcomes upon which to base their CL's. The Reward manipulation was introduced in 150 subsequent trials of the game with subjects playing for 8¢ or 1¢ per point. The results show that the absolute magnitude of reward did not influence the extent of cooperative or competitive behavior. On the other hand, the magnitude of reward relative to CL was significantly associated with the degree of cooperative behavior-supra-CL outcomes yielding a higher frequency of cooperative behavior than infra-CL outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-199
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1974
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Motivational bases in mixed-motive interactions: The effects of comparison levels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this