Discontinuity Effect


The interindividual–intergroup discontinuity effect is the tendency in some settings for relations between groups to be more competitive, or less cooperative, than relations between individuals. Why is this effect referred to as a discontinuity rather than just as a difference? Unpublished research has demonstrated that variation in the number of people in an interacting pair from one-on-one to two-on-two to three-on-three to four-on-four, and so on, has found a large difference between one-on-one and two-on-two, a smaller difference between two-on-two and three-on-three, and little change thereafter; that is, there is a discontinuity between one-on one relations and two-on-two (intergroup) relations. Research has documented the discontinuity effect in both nonlaboratory and laboratory contexts.

Nonlaboratory Evidence

The nonlaboratory research has had participants record on small diaries instances of back-and-forth ...

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