Individual differences in the formation of coalitions and alliances

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University of New Brunswick


Coalitions (the short-term coordinated effort of two or more parties against a third) and alliances (the frequent collaboration between two or more individuals) have been examined in fields such as comparative psychology and behavioural ecology. The purpose of the present study was to examine coalition and alliance formations in relation to individual factors such as personality, social dominance, egalitarianism, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and Machiavellianism. A total of 260 participants completed a questionnaire study to examine the relation among these variables. Females scored higher on Neuroticism, Agreeableness and Egalitarianism, whereas males had higher scores on Social Dominance, Machiavellianism, Negative Reciprocity, and Openness. Social dominance was a significant predictor of attacking a target in a number of coalitions. The personality trait of Openness predicted assisting the victim in several defensive coalitions. Because the current research is based on ethological and primatological theories, these theoretical frameworks extend the literature on non-human primates by examining coalition and alliance formation in human participants.