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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Robbers Cave experiment

In June 1954, two groups of a dozen 11-year-old boys alighted from separate buses in isolated Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma. For the next three weeks these young men would participate in what later became known as the Robbers Cave experiment. For the first week they would live in separation in different parts of the park, as the two groups separately bonded. In this week, one group would kill a rattlesnake and would proudly name themselves the Rattlers. The other group would name themselves the Eagles. In the next week, the groups were brought together to play competitive games. At this point all hell broke loose as the Eagles and the Rattlers competed and fought with each other. Then, in the study’s final week, the researchers set cooperative tasks for the boys. This involved them working towards shared goals rather than conflicting ones. This repaired the damage of the previous week and the boys went home on the same bus, with Eagles and Rattlers in some cases even riding together as friends (Haslam, Reicher, & Platow, 2010).


Haslam, S. A, Reicher, S. D., & Platow, M. J. (2010). The new psychology of leadership: Identity, influence, and power. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

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