Notes on Intergroup and co-operation: The Robber’s cave experiment
The aim of this experiment was to see whether it is possible to instil prejudice between two very similar groups by putting them in competition with each other.
· In 1954, 22 boys took part in a two week summer camp at the 200-acre Boys Scouts of America camp in the Western United States. (The ‘Robber’s Cave’ had been the hideaway of Jessie James).
· The boys were examined to make sure they were all in the right state of right, no neurotic tendencies and no past recorded of disturbing behaviour.
· The boys all came from a similar background: a white, Protestant, stable two-parent families of the middle socioeconomic level in Oklahoma.
· None of the boys knew each other; they all came from different schools and neighbourhoods.
· As part of the matching process, the boys were rated (including IQ) by teachers.
· On arrival they were revaluated for the two different groups they would go into. Then they were allocated into one of the two groups.
· The researchers acted as camp counsellors. The parents of the boys were charged for sending their children to this camp. The parents were also asked not visit during this 2-week period as it might make the boys homesick.
Research methods used were:
Ø Observation – a participant observer was allocated to each group to monitor them for 12 hours a day.
Ø Sociometric analysis – patterns such as those in friendship…