To what extent does cooperative versus competitive learning influence personality development or even pathological behaviors?

If these activities need to be narrowed down to a specific category, I'm more interested in gaming patterns or gamified activities used in education. Still, I would prefer a broad answer if there was one. Still, ideally, these would include sports, games of any type, common activities and everything which can be compared from the cooperative vs. competitive point of view.

So far, my searches are only returning results that focus on the effectiveness of such learning strategies, but not on the imprinting effect that it may have on the individual, specially if short-lived.

If particular research or studies cannot be founds, I can settle for an answer explaining hypothesis on how these would work towards building personality and behaviors.

The question arises from trying to draw a parallel with AI and general game playing, where cooperative/competitive behaviors can be "trained" through heuristics. These heuristics and the balance between cooperation/competitiveness (for mixed activities) usually display a personality, a "strategy" that depends on the coder or designer, unless the algorithm is self-taught. At that point, I would like to see if the behaviors seen by the self-taught algorithms can parallel in any way those nuances by human strategies, but I don't know how those are to be expected in humans at all - hence the question.

  • $\begingroup$ The question is most welcome; this site is for psychology questions. I just had a few questions: Are you interested in any particular age groups? Would this include things like the effect of involvement in competitive sport, the effect of competition for grades? How are you defining personality development? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks guys! (I'm seeing both of you around and I see you're doing a great job). No, I'm not interested in any particular age group, but I would accept an answer which is based on children, since most of the heavy-imprint learning happens there. And yes, this would include sports, games of any type, common activities and everything which can be compared from the cooperative vs. competitive point of view. "Personality development" is a broad term for me, there's probably a better word. I try to go with everything that makes people biased to a specific way of thinking/acting rather than other. $\endgroup$
    – Alpha
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ To verify this claim, I would suggest to conduct an interview with participants who engaged to such activities or do a longitudinal study. To cooperate and to compete are two different set of values that could be learned in any activity. You can learn both. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder if this question is still salient to the author after almost five years. Personally I find it both very interesting and important. Given that at the time of asking there didn't seem to be any research in this issue, probably it would be more fruitful to ask for theories could be appropriate to both frame and explain the effects the question relates to. $\endgroup$
    – user14074
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Will I haven't made any progress towards an answer (I haven't looked, to be honest). I think yours is a great idea. I'll modify the question. $\endgroup$
    – Alpha
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


In this question are mixed different topics that are not very well categorized, to find documents or specific tests is better to adapt certain topics, is not usually talk of cooperative versus competitive activities, but individual versus group activities.

In research on the judgment or solution of group problems, the hypothesis is implicit that the interaction brings to the product of the group something other than the mere combination of the individual products (Shaw in the book of 1981, Group dynamics, about individual learning and group learning). Look for high performance groups. In social psychology an enormous amount of variables have been studied, many of it in relation to learning and personality.

In relation to the field of AI: Different programs could establish contact, store, learn and put into practice different ways of solving the problem.

Interesting books:

  • Ferber, J. Multi-Agent System: An Introduction to Distributed Artificial Intelligence.
  • Grace, D. and Zhang, H. Cognitive Communications, Distributed Artificial Inteligence.
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to CogSci. Do you have any links to articles which relate to your answer which may help the person asking the question? $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:12

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