Aim:To investigate whether inter- group conflict occurs when two groups are in competition for the same thing.
Method: 22, 12 year old boys were attending a summer camp at Robbers Cave. The participants were not known to each other and were all white middle class people. They were randomly assigned to two groups but neither was aware of the others extistance. A series of intergroup contests was then devised by the counsellors. Situations were devised in which one group gained at expense of the other.
Results:Hostility quickly arose, and the group attacked each other. Each group became more united, and the more aggressive boys became leaders. The next stage in the study was to reduce prejudice by increasing social contact in a non-confrontational way. For instance they all ate together and went to see films. However this was not effective and it was not until the final stage that hostilty was eliminated.
Conclussion:Sherif concluded that competition increases both the unity within the groups and each group's hostility towards other groups.
Evaluation of Sherif
.The study was a field experiment which means it has high ecological validity
.Cannot generalise because it was conducted on white middle class boys.
.Ethical issues must be considered. The participats were decieved, as they did not know the true aim of the study. Also particints were not protected from physical and psychological harm.