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Superordinate Goals in the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict

This paper summarizes an experimental study on intergroup relations, with emphasis on the reduction of conflict between groups. In the first phase, two groups were established independently by introducing specified conditions for interaction; in the second phase, the groups were brought into functional contact in conditions perceived by the members of the respective groups as competitive and frustrating. Members developed unfavorable attitudes and derogatory stereotypes of the other group; social distance developed to the point of mutual avoidance, even in pleasant activities. In the final reducing tension between groups was the introduction of goals which were compellingly shared by members of the groups and which required the collaborative efforts of all.