Psychological Theories on Robbers Cave Experiment - Dictionary of Arguments
Haslam I 153
Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif/Psychological theories: Sherif and his colleagues were able to create psychologically meaningful groups (e.g., with a history, norms and internal status relations) and to demonstrate systematically the profound impact that variations in relationships both within and between the groups had on psychology and behaviour.
Tajfel: behaviour. In so doing, they were ‘able to recreate many phenomena … usually associated with long-term complex social and historical developments’ (Tajfel, 1978(1): 435).
Conclusions from the experiments (Sherif and Sherif 1969(2):
Groups: have a material reality including roles and status relationships
Relationships: will vary dynamically with the nature of intragroup members identifying with the group
Groups: have a psychological validity, with members identifying with the group
Intergroup attitudes: are psychological meaningful outcomes of the nature of intergroup relations
Competition: intergroup competition for limited resources causes negative intergroup impressions
Cooperation: between groups for compelling superordinate goals will have a cumulative effect in reducing intergroup hostility
Contact: intergroup contact alone ist not sufficient to reduce intergroup hostility.
Haslam I 154
TraditionVsSherif: psychological theories prior to Sherif’s studies had assumed that groups in fact do not exist. E. g.,
Groups/Allport: Thesis: the only material reality lies at the level of the individual (Allport 1924)(3).
SherifVsAllport/SherifVsTradition: the Boys’ Camp studies demonstrated unequivocally the presence and importance of social-psychological variables that exist only at the conceptual level of the group. >Robbers Cave Experiment/Sherif, >Social groups/Sherif.
Members: groups have substantive psychological meaning and significance for their members. The boys in the studies identified strongly with their groups. These groups were psychologically real, engaging and self-defining.
Haslam I 157
(…) since Sherif developed his theoretical analysis, researchers have gone on to clarify its ability to explain such things as rapid changes in the onset and dissipation of intergroup discrimination, and the process by which ingroup love evolves into outgroup hate (Brewer, 1999(4); Brown et al., 1986(5); Struch and Schwartz, 1989(6)).
1. Tajfel, H. (ed.) (1978) Differentiation Between Social Groups: Studies in the Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations. London: Academic Press.
2. Sherif, M. and Sherif, C.W. (1969) Social Psychology. New York: Harper & Row.
3. Allport, F.H. (1924) ‘The group fallacy in relation to social science’, Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology, 19: 60–73.
4. Brewer, M.B. (1999) ‘The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love or outgroup hate?’, Journal of Social Issues, 55: 429–44.
5. Brown, R.J., Condor, S., Mathews, A., Wade, G. and Williams, J.A. (1986) ‘Explaining intergroup differentiation in an industrial organization’, Journal of Occupational Psychology, 59: 273–86.
6. Struch, N. and Schwartz, S.H. (1989) ‘Intergroup aggression: Its predictors and distinctness from in-group bias’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56: 364–73.
Michael W. Platow and John A. Hunter, „ Intergroup Relations and Conflicts. Revisiting Sherif’s Boys’ Camp studies“, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic studies. London: Sage Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017