Can Protections Promote Intergroup Cooperation After They Have Been Removed?

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Abstract

Procedural justice schemes may promote cooperation by assuring fair distribution of resources and the achievement of group goals. Refunds on investments if group goals are not achieved may make the intergroup relationship safe, but such protections may be impractical over the long term. The current investigation examined whether intergroup cooperation would continue after the removal of protective refunds. Groups took part in a multiple trial, intergroup public-goods game. Half of the groups always had refunds, and half had refunds for only the first half of trials. Results showed that on the first trial following the cessation of protections, cooperation decreased for all groups despite past performance histories. However, cooperation rebounded if past success carried over when protections were absent. The protective refund scheme provided the opportunity for positive intergroup relations, but cooperative actions justifying intergroup trust were necessary for cooperation to continue when groups were unprotected.

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