Reputation of Those Who Cooperate Beyond Group Boundaries: A Comparison of Universalistic and In-Group Favoring Strategies

Reputation of those who cooperate beyond group boundaries

  • Wakaba Tateishi Hokkaido University
  • Hirofumi Hashimoto Osaka City University
  • Nobuyuki Takahashi Hokkaido University
Keywords: reputation, between-group cooperation, universalistic, in-group favoring


It has been suggested by various studies that between-group cooperation is more difficult to achieve than within-group cooperation. To investigate the factors that inhibit between-group cooperation, the reputation of a universalist, who cooperates beyond group boundaries, was considered. If the universalists were to be evaluated negatively, people would hesitate to cooperate beyond group boundaries. To examine this possibility, a comparison was drawn between the evaluation of people who employed the universalistic strategy and those who employed the in-group favoring strategy (who cooperates only with in-group members) by conducting a vignette experiment. In the experiment, participants evaluated two in-group members: one employed the in-group favoring strategy, and the other employed the universalistic strategy. In addition to the type of strategy, a trade-off between what in-group members received and what out-group members received was manipulated. Two studies were conducted by varying the universalistic strategy. The universalistic strategy meant giving resources equally to both group members in Study 1, and it meant maximizing the joint profit between the groups in Study 2. The results across the two studies suggest that the universalistic strategy was evaluated more positively than the in-group favoring strategy, with the exception that the in-group favoring strategy was chosen as the same group member in the future. Whether there was a trade-off had little effect on the evaluations of the two strategies. Consequently, this study suggests that the negative reputation of universalists might not be a factor that inhibited between-group cooperation.

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