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Preface to the Wesleyan Edition We planned originally to present the Robbers Cave experiment first as a research report and then, after slight revisions, as a book. New commitments and new careers stalled the revisions, however, and postponed publication of the book indefinitely.A report of the study was circulated in multilithed form in 1954 and, with an additional chapter, in 1961 as a publication of the Institute of Group Relations and the Book Exchange of the Universityof Oklahoma. Now,some 33 years later than planned, the study is appearing as a book due to the initiative of the editors of Wesleyan UniversityPress. The continued widespread citation of the study despite limited circulation of its earlier reports and its publication by a university press so long after its completion both attest to the timelessness ofthe issues with which the study dealt. We would like to believe, as Professor Donald Campbell implies in his Introduction to this volume, that our treatment of the issues, as well as their timelessness, helped to sustain the interest that has been shown in the study by representatives of diverse disciplines for over three decades. Donald Campbell's characterization of the study as "experimental anthropology" is certainly apt. While the study employed the method of participant observation, until recently the main research tool of the social anthropologist, it did so for the unique purpose of recording information on group interactions and other social processes elicited by experimentally induced conditions. It might well be, in fact, that the most distinctive feature of the study was the unusual way in which it combined field and experimental methods. Most of the more important hypotheses were derived from earlier naturalistic observations of groups and larger organizations by sociologists and anthropologists. The experimental method was used to elicit the operation of the variables suggested by naturalistic observations, and both the participant xxiii xxiv Preface/WesleyanEdition observation and experimental methods were employed to record the outcomes. This approach reflected a deeply held epistemic assumption by Professor Sherif, that consistency of outcomes across different methods and levels of analysis is a far more stringent criterion of validity than one method or level can yield alone. Although, as Don Campbell notes in his Introduction, Muzafer Sherif was one of the foundingfathers of present-day social psychology and has made notable contributions to the understanding of groups and attitude change since the RobbersCavestudy that study is the object of his greatest professional pride. Those of us who participated in the study with him, including Bob Hood and Carolyn Sherif, both now deceased, shared that pride. The present ill health of both Professors Sherif and White have sadly made it appropriate for me to be the person from among us to work with members of the Wesleyan UniversityPress in the publication of this book. From the time when he first contacted me a few months ago, Peter Potter, an editor of the Wesleyan University Press, and Jan Fitter, the copy editor for this volume, have made my job unusually easy. Our common objective has been to produce a book that in no way changes the basic content and intent of the earlier reports of the Robbers Cave experiment. Thanks are extended to the editors for their major contribution to this objective and, even more, for their unsolicited decision to publish this study in the first place. Muzafer Sherif, Jack White, and I wish to extend special thanks to Don Campbell for his profound and thoughtful Introduction to this book. Certainly no one is better qualified to evaluate the study, either in terms of its methodology or its historical and current significance. Both by his historical sketch of Muzafer Sherif's work prior to the Robbers Cave study and by his showing the connection between Shérifs work and his own, Professor Campbell has created a context that should allow the reader to understand more deeply and appreciate more fully the concerns, methodology, and procedures of the study. In doing so, he also provided social psychology the bonus of making clear the relationship between the works of two of the field's most notable figures. With the publication of this book, students and other interested persons will be able to read a thorough and accurate account of the Preface/Wesleyan Edition xxv Robbers Cave study,which often has not been the case because of the scarcity of full reports of the study and of errors in some of its secondand third-hand descriptions. O. J. Harvey Boulder...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780819569905
Related ISBN
9780819551030
MARC Record
OCLC
743046669
Pages
264
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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