Social Dilemmas
November 21, 2018
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Synopsis of Chapter Eight on Social Dilemmas

Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action

Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action is a book by Robert Baron and Norbert Kerr. It is a book that describes and analyzes groups. The manuscript entails the importance of groups and describes them as a fundamental part of human life. Groups contribute to the social life of human beings. According to the authors, groups greatly influence the dynamic of human life. Group influence can be either positive or negative. They shape our attitudes and behaviors and influence our judgment and feelings. The book describes groups as the main source of our gracious actions. Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action describes for the reader the phenomenon of group dynamics. Robert and Kerr place great importance on quite a few features of group experience that are vital in human life. Moreover, it discusses the social influence of groups, productivity of groups, acute group behavior, decision making in teams and conflicts that may rise between and inside the groups, as well as prejudices that may occur within groups. The book is primarily meant for students partaking undergraduate courses in social psychology and group dynamics.

The authors also pay attention to group characteristics, norms, the structure of groups, leadership issues in communities, the size of groups, and consistency in groups and stages in team forming. The book also points out that there is no clear definition of what a group is. This is because groups are dynamic and have different characteristics, therefore it is difficult to come up with single definition. The book has twelve chapters each with different topics. The chapters are arranged historically with the first chapters talking of research areas on groups. The analyzed manual describes research on group topics as an emerging issue and a new phenomenon. Research on groups and their dynamics brings in new excitement and curiosity. Thus, this book shares on the joy and what one has to confront while researching on group experience (Robert & Kerr, 2003).

Chapter Eight Synopsis

Social Dilemmas is the topic discussed in chapter eight of the book Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action. Social dilemmas occur when there are collective interests, which are in conflict with private interests. In social dilemmas, individual motives always overcome the interests of the group. If other impartial members do not intervene, there will be no balance in the group that might lead to its collapse.

There are four key notions addressed in chapter eight. The chapter addresses the character of the mixed intentions that may come up in social dilemmas. It also looks at the type of people that are highly probable to be involved in a social dilemma. Additionally, it looks at the role that social standards including reciprocity and obligation play in social dilemmas. There is also a discussion of the effects of structural features on group member collaboration. These four concepts are vital in explaining the social dilemmas in groups. Social dilemmas if unresolved lead to the collapse of the group, since individual interests’ conflict with group interests. This type of dilemmas mainly arises due to an individual’s selfish interests. People tend to put their personal interests before those of the group. This situation creates an imbalance, which might lead to the collapse of the team. The chapter provides detailed encounter on the social dilemmas facing groups (Robert & Kerr, 2003).

The authors state in chapter eight that the critical feature of an existing group is that a member of a group may have outcomes that do not rely on his or her actions. This means that the features of an existing group may also depend on the actions of individual members in the group. The book states that reliance among the group members forcefully heartens common valuable behavior. This can be explained using the case of footballers who are in competition. Every team member is entitled to working hard in order for the whole team to win. Team cooperation leads to behavioral preferences that may concurrently capitalize on every group member’s outcomes. The result may be winning the competition. Social dilemmas also entail pure competition. This means that when one person gains, other person losses. A good example is in business, a change in price leads to gain for either the buyer or seller. In these case one person’s and his or her counterpart’s interests are utterly opposed. According to the book, social dilemmas often entail situations, in which the cogent actions of an individual lead to suboptimal end results from a joint standpoint (Robert & Kerr, 2003).

The authors discuss the causes of social dilemmas through the four concepts that were mentioned earlier. The most natural causes of social dilemmas are individual and collective interests, which entails a situation of a group against an individual person. Individual interests arise due to expectation of selfish gains. A group member may think that he or she is more important than the group in general or than the other member of the team. Social dilemmas may thus occur due to either short-term interests of an individual member or due to long-term interests of the group. When the interests of all members of the group are in conflict with another member’s concerns, these may lead to a social dilemma. This situation may occur, for example, in a football team. The goal of the team is to win the game. There might be one team member, whose goal is to emerge as the man of the match or to score more goals. This in turn leads to a social dilemma, as defined by the book (Robert & Kerr, 2003).

The people who are most likely to be involved in a social dilemma are those individuals who are not cooperative and have no value for group work. These kinds of persons are most prospective to pursue self-interests at the expense of the group. The authors term these kinds of people as selfish, since they are driven by egoistic interests. Social standards also play a big role in social dilemma. Such community standards as obligation and reciprocity lead to social dilemmas. Reciprocity leads to mutual dependence between the group members. This may lead to one fellow not meeting the expectations of the group since he or she relies on the efforts of others. Based on chapter eight of the book, this expectation leads to a social dilemma. The authors also discuss the effects of structural features of a group on cohesion and collaboration among members. In most cases, social dilemmas would occur in large groups, since as the size increases, so does the number of different opinions of members. The bigger number of attitudes thus leads to social dilemmas. Size is one of the main structural features that may contribute to social dilemmas. The writers state that a large group may favor dependence and reliance on some members. This is because some members may feel inferior or may rely on active associates in the group (Robert & Kerr, 2003).


Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action is a book written by Robert Baron and Norbert Kerr. The book focuses on group dynamics. The manual presents discussion on the importance of groups and how they influence our daily life, judgment, attitudes and feelings. Chapter eight of the book refers to social dilemmas. The authors describe social dilemmas as situations that occur when there is a conflict of interests among the members. The chapter details the effects of social dilemmas on a group both internally and externally. It also details the root cause of social dilemmas and the possible players within a group.


Robert, B., & Norbert, K. (2003). Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action. Buckingham: Open University Press.

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