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Created by John C. Thomas on Feb. 25, 2002
Human beings are intrinsically social animals. Cooperative behavior allows groups of people to do much more collectively than they can do singly. Yet, not everyone is to be trusted in all circumstances. How can people balance the need for cooperation with the need to beware of those who would exploit them? One answer is to develop an “in-group”; that is, a set of people that is has a higher level of trust; a group that one gives to, perhaps altruistically. This group can be a mate-pair, a family, a team, a clan, a community, or a nation. Although bonding can serve other purposes, it is also an end in itself.
How can one form and maintain an in-group? It is easy for members of an in-group to become annoyed from the inevitable friction that occurs in attempting to collaborate and cooperate. In order to help continue the positive bonds, it is useful to hold various kinds of special events.
Cooperation and collaboration can result in higher levels of pleasure and survival for the group and its members (as well as the entire species). Yet, some may take advantage of attempts to cooperate (e.g., by “defecting, in “Prisoner’s Dilemma” parlance) and hurt the individual or other members of the group. How can one help insure that cooperation attempts do not simply lead to being exploited?
As people in a group attempt to cooperate, there are inevitable differences that arise about how to go about something. People pursuing their separate sub-goals may have to vie for the same resources. In addition, close interaction inevitably leads people to observe irritating habits and characteristics of others. In fact, precisely when social ties are strong, small deviations from expectations may appear “hurtful” or “threatening.” In such circumstances, how can the group continue to maintain positive feelings?
People have differences in resources, skills, abilities or interests that lead them to specialize and trade. In many cases, it is too onerous, time-consuming, and inefficient to haggle over a monetary exchange for every single action in every single cooperative endeavor.
People need to interact closely in order to collaborate and cooperate. In such interactions, people occasionally each need the same resources at the same time or have different approaches to the same problem. In such circumstances, it is easy for friction to arise within the group.
In order to work together effectively, it helps to form an in-group with strong social ties. Interactions are all associated with work; with a high risk/reward payoff, and involve expectations that have largely become routine and implicit.
· People tend to form in-groups with strong social ties when they work together.
· Small variations in behavior from the expected norms can become highly threatening.
· Over time, as people become more skilled, they come to believe any miscommunication or lack of coordination is due to someone else.
· Errors eventually occur in all situations.
In-groups should hold special events that focus more on bonding experiences than on doing productive work. This allows people to see each other more fully than in a very narrow role and since the event holds some degree of novelty, people do not the same strict expectations of behavior that they do with respect to highly practiced group work.
AN Example Pattern of a Special Event is:
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