Preemptive striking in individual and group conflict

Nobuhiro Mifune*, Yoichi Hizen, Yoshio Kamijo, Yoshitaka Okano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we conducted a laboratory experiment to assess preemptive striking by and towards individuals or groups. In the framework of a preemptive strike game, we set the following four conditions: one person faced another person, one person faced a three-person group, a three-person group faced an individual, and a three-person group faced another three-person group. Previous studies have revealed that greed is activated when participants belong to a group, while fear is activated when participants interact with a group, and further, that attacking behaviors in the preemptive strike game are driven by fear. These observations led to a hypothesis that high attack rates would be realized when participants interact with a group, regardless of whether the participants make decisions as individuals or a group. The results of our experiment, however, rejected this hypothesis. Among the four conditions, the attack rate was highest when a three-person group faced an individual. As possible reasons for our observation, we discuss the potential threat stemming from the imbalance in the effectiveness of attack between individuals and groups, and the (incorrect) belief by groups that single individuals would be more likely to attack out of fear.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0154859
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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