Types of Positive Interdependence

Johnson, Johnson and Holubec describe three levels in establishing positive interdependence. The teacher first has to assign the group a clear, measurable task, then structure positive goal interdependence, and finally blend positive goal interdependence with other types of positive interdependence.  

There are nine types of positive interdependence:  

Positive Goal Interdependence: Students must realize that they can achieve their learning goals if, and only if, all the members of their group also achieve their goals. 

Positive Celebration/Reward Interdependence: A mutual reward is given for successful group work and members’ efforts to achieve it.  

Positive Resource Interdependence: Each member of the group has only a part of the information, resources, or materials necessary for his or her task. In this way, the members' resources have to be combined so that the group accomplishes its goal.  

Positive Role Interdependence: Each member is assigned complementary and interconnected roles that show the responsibilities required by the group to fulfill a common task.  

Positive Identity Interdependence: Group members have to find and agree upon a common identity, which can be a name, a motto, a slogan, a flag, or a song.  

Environmental Interdependence: Students are bound together by the physical environment in which they work. Thus, the teacher has to find an environment that unifies students. 

Positive Fantasy Interdependence: The teacher gives students an imaginary task, for which they have to come up with solutions, for example a life-threatening situation or dealing with future technology.   

Positive Task Interdependence: Work has to be organized sequentially. As soon as one team accomplishes its portion, the next team can proceed with its responsibility, and so on. 

Positive Outside Enemy Interdependence: The teacher puts groups in competition with each other. In this way, group members feel interdependent and do their best to win the competition (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).    

Positive resource, role, and task interdependence result in individuals realizing that the performance of group members depends on the whole group and not on individuals. No student is on his/her own. As a result of mutual causation, cooperative efforts are characterized by positive inducibility in that group members are open to being influenced by each other. If one member of the group has taken an action, there is no need for other members to do so (Johnson & Johnson, 1999).


           Johnson, D., Johnson, R.  (1999). Learning together and alone: cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning.Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

           Johnson, D., Johnson, R.& Holubec, E. (1998).Cooperation in the classroom. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.