restricted access 2. Approach, Hypotheses, and General Design of the Study
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Approach, Hypotheses, and General Design of the Study The focal concern of this study is intergroup relations. As an experiment in social psychology, the study undertook to trace over a period the formation and functioning of negative and positive attitudes, as a consequence of experimentally introduced situations, of members of one group toward another group and its members. Therefore, the main hypotheses relate to attitudinal and behavioral trends predicted as a result of controlled alterations of the conditions in which experimentally formed ingroups interact. The general trend of findings from the sociology of small ingroups and their intergroup relations and relevant findings from the work of experimental psychologists led us to use successive stages in the experimental study of the problem of intergroup relations. The study in the summer of 1954 was carried out in three successive stages. Stage 1consisted of experimental production of ingroups with a hierarchical structure and set of norms (intragroup relations). In line with our 1949 and 1953 studies, this was done not through discussion methods or through lecture or exhortation by resource persons or experts, but through the introduction of goals which would arise as integral parts in the situations, would have common appeal value, and would necessitatefacing a common problem and discussing, planning, and executing a solution in a mutually cooperative way. Stage 2 brought the two experimentally formed groups into functional relations in situations in which the groups found themselves in competition for given goals and in conditions implying some frustration in relation to one another (intergroup tension). Stage 3 introduced goals that could not be easily ignored by members of the two antagonistic groups, but the attainment of which was beyond the resources and efforts of one group alone. Such goals are 24 2 Approach, Hypotheses, and General Design 25 referred to as superordinate goals throughout this report. Superordinate goals were introduced with the aim of studying the reduction of intergroup tension in order to derive realistic leads for the integration of hostile groups. Considerations that led to the selection of this approach rather than other possible alternatives (such as a common enemy , leadership technique, or discussion techniques) are stated briefly in the discussion of Stage 3 in the last part of this chapter. It should be emphasized at the outset that individuals brought into an experimental situation to function as small groups are already members of actual groups in their social settings and thus have internalized values or norms (i.e., attitudes) that they necessarily bring to the situation. With this consideration in mind, and to give greater weight to experimentally introduced factors in the situation, this study made a special effort, in the formation and change of positive or negative attitudes toward respective ingroups and outgroups, not to appeal to internalized values or to prestige symbols coming from the larger setting. Background Rationale The rationale that underlies the foregoing formulation of our approach to the studyofintergroup relations stems from relevant findings in both sociology and psychology. They are stated more fully elsewhere .1 Here, only a summary of these lines of development will be given. Empirical observations by social scientists and inferences made by psychologists without direct experimental verificationpresent a rather confusing picture. Therefore it is necessary to state precisely the sense 1. Leads derived from the field work of sociologists concerning relations of small groups are summarized in M. Sherif and H. Cantril, The Psychology of Ego-Involvements (New York: Wiley, 1947), Chapter 10; M. Sherif, An Outline of Social Psychology (New York: Harper, 1948), Chapters 5-7; M. Sherif and C. W. Sherif, Groups in Harmony and Tension (New York: Harper, 1953), especially Chapter 8. Psychological principles derived from the work of experimental psychologists and used in our previous work as well as in the present undertaking are summarized in M. Sherif, "The Frame of Reference in Psychological Phenomena," The Psychology of Social Norms (New York: Harper, 1936), Chapter 3; Sherif, Outline of Social Psychology, especially Chapters 4, 7, and 9; Sherif and Sherif, Groups in Harmony and Tension, especially Chapter 6. 26 The Robbers Cave Experiment in which the concept group and the issue of relations between groups (intergroup relations) are used here. A group may be defined as a social unit that consists of a number of individuals who, at a given time, stand in more or less definite interdependent status and role relationships with one another, and that explicitly or implicitly possesses a set of values or norms regulating the behavior of individualmembers, at least...


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Subject Headings

  • Small groups -- Case studies.
  • Intergroup relations -- Case studies.
  • Social interaction -- Case studies.
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