Perceptions of conflict: Parochial cooperation and outgroup spite revisited

Ori Weisel*, Ro'i Zultan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental team games provide valuable data to help understand behavior in intergroup conflict. Past research employing team games suggests that individual participation in conflict is driven mostly by parochial cooperation, rather than outgroup spite. We argue that motives in conflict depend on whether conflict is framed and perceived at the group or individual level. In a controlled laboratory experiment, we manipulate perception of the conflict level by varying the framing of the conflict, keeping the objective strategic aspects of conflict fixed. While parochial cooperation is the main motivation under an individual frame (replicating prior results), outgroup spite emerges as an important motivation when conflict is perceived at the group level. Furthermore, under an individual frame intragroup communication and chronic prosociality are related only to parochial cooperation, but are similarly related to both parochial cooperation and outgroup spite under a group frame. We conclude that perceptions of conflict are crucial for understanding the motivations that guide individual behavior in intergroup conflict. While experimental team games naturally focus on the strategic aspects of conflict, it is possible to extend the experimental paradigm to incorporate the perception of conflict. We discuss how these insights shed new light on past results, and how they may inform future work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-71
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Framing
  • IPD
  • IPD-MD
  • Ingroup love and Outgroup hate
  • Intergroup conflict
  • Social dilemmas
  • Team-games


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