Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment, by Muzafer Sherif, O. J. Harvey, B. Jack White, Willi


In 1954, Muzafer Sherif and Carolyn Sherif studied the origin of prejudice in social groups in a classic study called the Robbers Cave Experiment. They conducted their research in a 200 acres (0.8 km2) summer camp which was completely surrounded by Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma. During the study, Sherif posed as a camp janitor. The study team screened a group of 22 eleven-year-old boys with similar backgrounds. They were picked up by two buses carrying 11 boys each. Neither group knew of the other’s existence. The boys were assigned to two living areas far enough apart that each group remained ignorant of the other’s presence for the first few days. The Sherifs had broken up pre-existing friendships to the extent they could, so that each boy’s identification with his new group could…