Do this tension and this formula refer to the same thing?

Social connections are so essential for our survival and well-being that we not only cooperate with others to build relationships, we also compete with others for friends. And often we do both at the same time. Take gossip. Through gossip, we bond with our friends, sharing titillating details. But at the same time, we are creating potential foes in the targets of our gossip. Or consider dueling holiday parties where people compete to see who will attend their party. We can even see this tension in social media as people compete for the most friends and followers or the most likes and retweets. At the same time, competitive exclusion can also breed cooperation. High school cliques, fraternities, and country clubs use this formula to great effect: It is through selective inclusion and exclusion that they produce loyalty and lasting social bonds.

Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both

  • this tension is between building relationships and competing for friends. But this formula seems to refer to competitive exclusion, which isn't precisely defined in the fragment we have here. Sep 21, 2020 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


By "this tension", the author is referring to the conflicting elements of the strategy of including and excluding selectively. There is a tension for the gossiper who forges a connection with one person by making an enemy of another. While choosing to build alliances with some people, one is also creating rivals or choosing to compete with others.

By "this formula", the author is referring to the same behaviour but viewed as a strategy as opposed to the inherent conflict within it.

So, they do not mean exactly the same thing, although they refer to the same behaviour. Hope that makes sense.

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