Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Danny Axsom, Karlene Ball, John O'Connor

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of an individual difference variable (the Type A/B coronary prone behavior pattern) on intergroup conflict reduction. Undergraduates were first characterized as Type A/B based on a pretest. They then participated in a study that consisted of the presentation of two conflict-inducing tasks to each of two groups homogeneous with respect to the A/B dimension. There were three conditions in the study: sessions in which the groups were composed exclusively of "A"'s or "B"'s, and sessions which consisted of "A"'s and "B's. The two groups competed with one another on these tasks with the assumption that the group that produced the best product would be awarded extra credit. This conflict-inducing stage was followed by the presentation of two superordinate tasks, which required both groups to work together in order to gain a reward. Questionnaires were administered before and after the presentation of the superordinate tasks. These questionnaires assessed interpersonal attraction, tasks, and general processes. It was hypothesized that groups composed of Type "A"s would have less increase in attraction scores after completing

the superordinate task than would groups composed of Type "Bs or groups composed of Type "A"'s and Type "B"s. In other words, the superordinate goal would be less effective in reducing intergroup conflict with Type "A" groups than Type "B" groups. Although no significant differences were found in attraction or cooperation ratings among the three conditions (AA, AB, BB), the trend of the group means offered some support for the initial hypothesis. However, AA conditions did indicate the perception that they were in more control during the study than did AB or BB conditions. This finding is consistent with the results found in studies assessing Type "A"'s perceptions of control (e.g. Sanders and Malkis, 1981). The clearest finding was that the superordinate goal was effective in reducing intergroup conflict. For example, all groups increased their ratings of outgroup members over time. Finally, the effect that individual difference variables can have on intergroup conflict and on the functioning of groups is discussed.


Health Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences