ROBBER’S CAVE EXPERIMENT (Sherif, 1956)

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10 Psychology Note on ROBBER’S CAVE EXPERIMENT (Sherif, 1956), created by melamia97 on 09/08/2013.

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ROBBER’S CAVE EXPERIMENT (Sherif, 1956) AIM: to reduce prejudice through intergroup contact PARTICIPANT INFORMATION: 22 white, middle class, protestant boys ages 11 – 12, with no records of school, psychological or behavioural problems. STAGE ONE HYPOTHESIS: It was hypothesised that each group’s exposure to activities that promoted teamwork would encourage the development of cohesion within the group so that the members would feel a sense of belonging. PROCEDURE: The groups were separated and partook in tea-strengthening activities to develop a sense of belonging and ‘togetherness’, such as preparing meals and building equipment. This lasted for a week. RESULTS: The groups assigned themselves a name and a flag to express the unique qualities of their groups, demonstrating their cohesion with the group. CONCLUSION: a group’s exposure to team activities within their own group promotes teamwork and this in turn causes the development of cohesion within a group so that the members feel a sense of belonging. STAGE TWO HYPOTHESIS: It was hypothesised that when two groups have confliction aims, their members will become hostile to each other and develop prejudiced feelings, even though the groups are composed of normal, well-adjusted individuals. PROCEDURE: Intergroup competitions were organised and this revealed the two separate groups to each other. Researches treated one groups better at times and the other group better at others. A weeklong tournament was introduced as well as a catalyst to the competition and negative feelings towards the other group. RESULTS: hostility escalated as the tournament progressed and the boys even went to the extent of referring to the other team as ‘those guys’, burning their flag, stealing their prizes and even starting fights. CONCLUSION: groups that have conflicting aims will produce hostility among members and prejudice feelings will develop, even if the groups are composed of normal, well-adjusted individuals. STAGE THREE HYPOTHESIS: It was hypothesised that the two groups’ hostile feelings and prejudice are reduced gradually through goal-focused and co-operative activities, which promote increased contact and mutual independence between the two rival teams. PROCEDURE: it was arranged that the boys would share mealtimes and watch movies together. Then the two groups had to complete three tasks, in which none of them could be accomplished without the work of both groups, such as repairing a water tank and each put in money to rent a movie. RESULTS: at first the boys continued to fight with each other but then when forced to act mutually independent they made friendships with people across the groups and viewed themselves as one big group in stead of two separate groups. In fact, by the end of the camp all of the boys actively sought out opportunities to interact with each other and all hostility and prejudice seemed to have disappeared. CONCLUSION: hostile feelings and negative attitudes are gradually reduced through these goal-focused cooperative activities. OVERALL CONCLUSION: this experiment revealed how mutual independence can reduce prejudice and conflict between groups; mutual independence was created by setting the groups superordinate goals.

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