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The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation. [Orig. pub. as Intergroup Conflict and Group Relations] [Paperback]

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Item description for The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation. [Orig. pub. as Intergroup Conflict and Group Relations] by Muzafer Sherif...

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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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wesleyan
Pages   264
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 28, 1988
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819561940  
ISBN13  9780819561947  

Availability  0 units.

More About Muzafer Sherif

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Muzafer Sherif (1906-1988) was professor and director of the psychosocial studies program at Pennsylvania State University. He is known as one of the founders of the field of social psychology and also helped develop social judgment theory and realistic conflict theory.

Muzafer Sherif was born in 1905.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > General
2Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology

Reviews - What do customers think about The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation. [Orig. pub. as Intergroup Conflict and Group Relations]?

A classic experiment in child's play  Jun 20, 2009
I was introduced to the Robber's Cave Experiment in the late '60's by one of Muzafer Sherif's less distinguished students. He was finishing his doctoral dissertation and teaching an auditorium-sized class in undergraduate social psychology.

My initial response to the Experiment was dismissive: it was hard to see why anyone would be particularly interested in a couple of groups of kids playing rough-and-tumble games on a grassy field on the Yale campus. The instructor, however, had the good sense to direct us to Sherif's own written account of his work. It proved to be illuminating.

What did we learn with virtual certainty from the Robber's Cave Experiment, findings that have a multitude of applications that go far beyond child's play? First, if members of a group are prompted to compete with each other, the group will become fraught with discord and cease to function effectively as a unit. Second, if members of a group are prompted to compete with an opposing social unit, the group will become internally cooperative, and function quite effectively as a cohesive social entity.

These simple principles, moreover, are thoroughly grounded in the methodological strength of a genuine experimental design, and they have a multitude of obvious and unforeseen applications. The Experiment illuminates notions such as soldiers in battle fighting for each other rather than for an abstract patriotic objective. I think it also renders problematic currently popular notions such as merit pay for teachers: reward teachers as a unified group, perhaps competing against measures of past aggregate performance, not as one-on-one or even school-to-school competitors for ostensibly scarce resources.

More generally, let's disabuse ourselves of the notion that this is a dog-eat-dog world, and our children need to be taught its cut-throat ways. Yes, it is a dog-eat-dog world, but the formation of cooperative social groups provides a much better way to afford one's self protection. Members of violent gangs in big-city ghettos and hard-time prisons see this immediately.

It's entirely possible in a laissez-faire capitalist society such as the U.S. that group cohesiveness, efficacy, and sense of belonging will be turned against the interests of the many. Early twentieth-century capitalists knew this well and kept the working class fractionated by playing one ethnic group off against another. Preventing the distortion of institutions and naturally occurring social formations has always been a problem for working people in capitalist societies.

In any case, the Robber's Cave Experiment is not child's play. It's got too many actual and prospective applications to very serious situations involving adults doing the work of adults to be relegated to that diminished status.

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