The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation

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Wesleyan University Press, 1961 - Psychology - 229 pages
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Originally issued in 1954 and updated in 1961 and 1987, this pioneering study of “small group” conflict and cooperation has long been out-of-print. It is now available, in cloth and paper, with a new introduction by Donald Campbell, and a new postscript by O.J. Harvey.

In this famous experiment, one of the earliest in inter-group relationships, two dozen twelve-year-old boys in summer camp were formed into two groups, the Rattlers and the Eagles, and induced first to become militantly ethnocentric, then intensely cooperative. Friction and stereotyping were stimulated by a tug-of-war, by frustrations perceived to be caused by the “out” group, and by separation from the others. Harmony was stimulated by close contact between previously hostile groups and by the introduction of goals that neither group could meet alone. The experiment demonstrated that conflict and enmity between groups can be transformed into cooperation and vice versa and that circumstances, goals, and external manipulation can alter behavior.

Some have seen the findings of the experiment as having implications for reduction of hostility among racial and ethnic groups and among nations, while recognizing the difficulty of control of larger groups.
 

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Contents

1 Integrating Field Work and Laboratory in Small Group Research
3
2 Approach Hypotheses and General Design of the Study
24
3 Role of Staff Subject Selection Experimental Site
50
4 Experimental Formation of Ingroups
63
Production of Negative Attitudes Toward the Outgroup
96
Assessment of Ingroup Functioning and Negative Attitudes Toward the Outgroup
120
Reducing Friction
150
8 Summary and Conclusions
199
References
215
Index
221
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About the author (1961)

MUZAFER SHERIF was professor emeritus of sociology at Penn. O.J. HARVEY is professor of psychology at the University of Colorado where he has taught since 1958. B. JACK WHITE was professor of psychology at the University of Utah. William R. Hood was a social psychologist at the University of Oklahoma Medical School. CAROLYN W. SHERIF was professor of psychology at Penn State. DONALD T. CAMPBELL was University Professor of Social Relations and Psychology at Lehigh University, and the author of numerous articles and books including, with R.A. LeVine, Ethnocentrism: Theories of Conflict, Ethnic Attitudes and Group Behavior.

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