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Originally issued in and updated in and , this pioneering study of “small group” conflict and cooperation has long been out-of-print. It is now. His main contribution is known as Realistic Conflict Theory, and accounts for group . Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The Robbers Cave experiment (Vol. Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment by Muzafer Sherif, O.J. Harvey, B. Jack White, William R. Hood, and Carolyn W. Sherif.

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It is possible, therefore, to set up situations in which the appraisal or evaluation of a social situation will be reflected in the judgments and perceptions of the individual.

To extract some minimum generalizations from the sociological findings on small groups on the one hand; on the [p. The rest of the Chapter will be devoted to a summary statement of the prior attempts on our part toward pulling together some relevant findings in sociology and in psychology in the study of small groups. This approach, which considers the behavior of individuals as an outcome of interaction processes into which factors [p.

The events at Robbers Cave mimicked the kinds of conflict that plague people all over the world. Sherif summarized in M. But when the child is able to participate in activities grasping the reciprocities involved and required of the situation, then new rules arise in the course of interaction, and these rules become his autonomous rules to which he complies with inner acceptance.

In both cases, there are emergent properties. It is an emergent product which cannot be simply extrapolated from individual situations; the properties of the unique interaction process have to be brought into the [p. If care is taken at the beginning to refer to the general setting in which small groups form and function, their products and structure can be traced through longitudinal observation of the interaction process.

The boys tended to characterize their own in-group in very favorable terms, and the other out-group in very unfavorable terms. This point can be illustrated in relation to small group studies. Therefore, the fact remains that group norms are the products of interaction process. Psychological “trait” theories or personality typologies fell far short in explaining social relations. Therefore, going cooperaation step further, if it is shown that this common range and modal point are maintained by the individual in a subsequent session on a different day when he is alone, then we can say that the common range and modal point have become his own.

The Robbers Cave Sherif, The early phase Stage 1 of the study consisted of a variety of activities permitting contact between all the boys and observation of budding friendship groupings.

Classics in the History of Psychology — Sherif et al. (/) Index

Judgments and perceptions are not merely intellectual and coooperation psychological events. In short, superordinate goals are introduced with the aim of studying the reduction of intergroup tension to derive realistic leads for the integration of hostile groups. Malinowski describes the complex exchange system of the Argonauts of the Western Pacific called the Kula.


If external stimulus situations are well structured in definite objects, forms, persons, and groupings, perception will correspond closely to the stimulus structure on the whole.

One example was the drinking water problem.

Classics in the History of Psychology — Sherif et al. (/) Chapter 1

The results substantiated these hunches. This experimental plan was carried robbes during the summer of at Robbers Cave in Oklahoma. Let us start with the term “small group” itself.

Bringing into functional relations the two experimentally formed groups in situations in which the groups find themselves in competition for given goals and in conditions which imply some frustration in relation to one another intergroup tension. In the recurrent findings reported in this line of research, which was carried out xonflict a period untergroup a good many years, one cannot help finding crucial leads for a realistic approach to experimentation in this area.

At one extreme, subjects will be complete strangers; at the other extreme, subjects will be members of highly structured groups. During the last century cooperztion the social sciences and more recently in psychology, the dependence of sub-units upon the setting or superordinate system of which they are parts has gained increased attention, especially in view of unrewarding attempts to account for the functioning system in an additive way.

Robbers Cave Experiment

In line with the interyroup, it was found that individuals tended to overestimate the performance of subjects with whom they had close positive ties and correspondingly to underestimate the future performance of those with whom they had an antagonistic relationship. Faced with the task of dealing with both psychological and sociocultural factors in human relations problems, psychologists have too often yielded to the temptation of improvising their own “sociologies” in terms of their preferred concepts.

The difference between qualities attributed to in-group members and members of friendly out-groups is much smaller and not so clear-cut, as would be expected. In a subsequent qnd, it was found that a characteristic mode of reaction in a given unstructured situation can be produced through the introduction of a prescribed range and norm Sherif, While sociological or psychological improvisation at times proves necessary on the frontiers of a discipline, it is difficult to justify on topics for which a substantial body of research exists in sociology or in psychology, as the case may be.

The Moral Judgment of the ChildLondon: These are among the considerations which led us to an intensive study of ego-involvements, and to experimental units tapping ego-involvements in interpersonal relations and among members occupying differing positions in the status hierarchy of a group. Another of the major instigators of the extraordinary volume of small group research stems from the practical concern of business and military agencies.


The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation

On the basis of results obtained in the American setting, it would seem that the superiority of group discussion methods might be universal.

Nor should the results be generalized to real life because the research used only 12 year old white middle class intergroul and excluded, for example, girls and adults. Such facts are referred to under the concept of perceptual selectivity.

Another major influence in the development of small [p. They ended up putting their Rattler flag on the pitch.

Of the two groups, skill seemed to be of relatively greater importance in the group which achieved less stability and solidarity. At the end of this stage, there developed unmistakable group structures, each with a leader and hierarchical statuses within it, and also names and appropriate group norms, imtergroup sanctions for deviate behavior.

The Robbers Cave Experiment Snippet view – The study was a field experiment which means it has high ecological validity. Then, they were introduced to each other stage 2and immediately the name calling began.

Since perceptions and judgments are jointly determined by external and internal factors, it is possible to vary the relative weights of these factors in differing combinations, giving rise to corresponding judgmental and perceptual variations.

In order to do so, the stimulus situation had to be made as unstructured as possible so that the developing status relations would be the weighty factor in determining the direction of judgmental variations. The boys developed an attachment to their groups throughout the first week of the camp, quickly establishing their own cultures and group norms, by doing various activities together like hiking, swimming, etc.

It was found that as the stimulus situation becomes more unstructured, the correspondence between stimulus values and judgment values decreases and the influence of social factors established friendship ties in this case increases Thrasher, Situations were also devised whereby one group gained at the expense of the other. Intergrokp human interaction takes place largely on a symbolic level, communication is here considered part and parcel of the interaction process.

The outlines of an interdisciplinary approach appear more clearly with the realization that “psychological” and “sociological” signify different levels of robberrs. This experiment was carried out with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the University of Oklahoma. The kids were under the impression that their drinking water was cut off possibly due to vandals.