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Pg. 286
Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment
Dr. Brian G. Gilmartin
University Press of America, Inc.

The Principle of the Superordinate Goal

      There is a well established principle in the social sciences which
states that whenever the cooperation of two people is enlisted towards
the completion of some task that is of equivalent importance to both
(and which cannot be successfully completed except through the close cooperative
enterprise of the two people), those two people will come to like each other,
they will become friends, and their values, attitudes, goals, etc., will
tend to become increasingly similar. This is known as the principle of the
superordinate goal. And it would seem to me to be particularly applicable
to the problem of dispelling bashfulness and social distance between an
elementary school boy and girl who may have a romantic interest in
each other. Of course, it would be equally applicable to the problem of
helping older love-shys as well. The principle has been found to work
quite irrespective of the ages or genders of the people involved.
      In elementary schools it is usually quite easy for a teacher to engi-
neer social experiences entailing superordinate goals. For example, a
teacher can enlist the cooperation of a boy, and the girl in whom he is
interested, in the completion of some sort of project for the classroom
or for the school. They could be asked to do something that would
require them to spend quite a bit of time studying and researching
together in a cooperative way. The teacher can make such assignments
in a nonchalant way which suggests to the particular boy and girl that
there had been no special reason for grouping them together. A teacher
can do much to provide the sort of warm mutual introductions that stave
off blushing and other manifestations (internal and external) of painful