The Psychology of Helping / Peacemaking / Cooperation / Communication / Conciliation

Topic: The Psychology of Helping / Peacemaking / Cooperation / Communication / Conciliation

Posted by: David and Yeri

Key Terms:

  • social exchange theory - the theory that our social behavior is an exchange process, the aim of which is to maximize benefits and minimize costs.
  • superordinate goals - shared goals that override differences among people and require their cooperation.
  • GRIT - Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction- a strategy designed to decrease international tensions.


The Psychology of Helping
We have constant goal which is to maximize rewards and minimize costs. Social psychologists call it social exchange theory. If people anticipate rewards from helping that exceed the costs, they help.
Social expectations also cause people to help. They suggest how people must behave, often to their mutual benefit. People naturally learn the reciprocity norm which leads people think that they should help, not harm, those who have helped them before. People also learn a social responsibility norm which is the expectation that we should help those who need our help, even if the costs outweigh the rewards.
The two conflicting parties could come into close contact only when such contact is noncompetitive and have equal status between parties.
Muzafer Sherif, a researcher, placed 22 boys in two separate areas of a boy Scout camp. He then put these two groups to be involved in series of competitive activities. These two different groups became hostile to each other and weren't able to have good relationships. However, Sherif changed these enemies to friends by giving them superordinate goals (shared goals) that could be achieved only through cooperation. Through many different experiments, researchers found out that cooperative contact reduces conflicts and brings postive effect in many different settings, such as in multifultural school. This approves that although people can't love everyone who holds different ideas, they can still learn to accept each other and value human diversity as we work toward the sahred goals.

Whenever the conflicts become more complicated, a third-party mediator (counselor, diplomat, and labor mediator) is need in promoting communications to occur. Mediators help each different side to view and listen other person's thoughts and understand them. By leading people to think of each other's goals and situations, it will replace the competitive win-lose orientation with a cooperative win-win orientation that sima at a mutually beneficial resolution. However, sometimes this communication becomes difficult to be achieved when the conflicts become intensified.
When tension and suspicion become too intense, cooperation and communication all become impossible. Social psychologist Charles Osgood have came up with alternative strategy to reduce conflicts under such conditions called "Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction." (GRIT). Under this strategy, one side first announces its mutual interest to reduce tensions. Then, it innitiates one or more small conciliatory acts. Without mistreating one's retaliatory capability, this process opens up the chance to possible reciprocation. The experiment has confirmed that GRIT has been the most effective strategy known for increasing trust and cooperation.

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The Psychology of Helping / Peacemaking / Cooperation / Communication / Conciliation - The Neuron

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