Reducing intergroup conflict through the consideration of future consequences

Basic social psychological research has suggested several interventions to reduce intergroup conflict. Most of these interventions, however, have been indirect and impractical to implement outside laboratory settings. Although past research has demonstrated that indirect manipulations of the consideration of future consequences reduce intergroup competition, no study of interindividual–intergroup discontinuity has tested this assumption with a direct manipulation. The present study found that when participants (individuals and members of groups) interacting in an iterated prisoner's dilemma game (PDG) were asked to predict how their opponent's choice on a second trial would be affected by their own choice on an initial trial, intergroup competition was reduced while interindividual competition remained low regardless of the manipulation. On a practical level, implications of this study provide a simple and easily implemented solution to reducing intergroup conflict in non-laboratory situations.