The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif's Robbers Cave Experiment

Scribe. Apr. 2019. 385p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781947534605. pap. $18. PSYCH
OrangeReviewStarPerry (Behind the Hock Machine) presents the fascinating true story of the infamous Robbers Cave experiment, perhaps the most controversial psychological study of modern times. In the early 1950s, a group of boys attended a remote summer camp in Oklahoma. For purposes of the study, they were divided into two groups and encouraged to bully, harass, and demonize one another. In the end they reconciled, and the principal researcher, psychologist Mazafur Sherif, showed that while hatred and violence are powerful forces so are cooperation and harmony. Prejudice, hostility, and brutality, Sherif found, were the result of attitudes and relationships among various factions in society. Perry contextualizes the study, which was conducted at the height of the Cold War, and draws on archival material and new interviews to offer an updated analysis.
VERDICT This brilliant reexamination of a study that resonates today should interest scholars as well as undergraduate and graduate psychology students. Also consider Paige Rawl's memoir Positive, one of the best titles on bullying to date.
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