The Thief’s Cave Experience: Creating Conflict From Thin

We often wonder how so many social conflicts can exist. So many wars that have happened to humanity, so many ethnic or religious clashes, so many problems of coexistence or collaboration between peoples. The thief’s cave experience is a way to take all these doubts away, With amazing results.

This type of study was designed in the mid-twentieth century, just after the end of World War II, when countless psychosocial experiments emerged, answering many unknowns arising from the conflict.

What is the thief’s cave experience?

The Thief’s Cave Experiment took place in the United States, near Oklahoma, and was designed to detect the prejudices and ideological burdens that individuals carry with them on the back, often causing the most serious problems such as xenophobia, misogynia and homophobia. Intolerance “of the other”, in short. There is a kind of “them versus us” mantra that we often think we don’t feel identified with.

It was then two professors from the University of Oklahoma in the United States, Muzafer Sherif and Carolyn Sherif, who had the idea to do this research. For this, they selected two groups of children between 10 and 11 years old without a history of conflict, stable families and a decent childhood to avoid external conditions.

First of all, neither of the members of the two groups (a total of 24 children) had prior knowledge of the experience, and neither of them knew or had crossed paths, as they were selected from schools. different. It is important to insist on this section for the success of the experiment.

The 3 phases of the study

A place was chosen in an open field, in nature. It is the perfect place to get rid of any social stigma, a way to assimilate the individual to the rest by dressing in the same clothes, sharing a similar space and respecting it.

experience took place in the famous thieves cave natural park (Oklahoma, USA), hence its name. Just by walking on the floor, the guardians divided the children completely randomly into two groups, called Group A and Group B.

1. Sense of identity

In this first phase or stage of the experiment, the authors are in charge of encourage a sense of belonging to a group through joint activities like swimming, hiking or looking for wood for bonfires. In short, activities that strengthen interpersonal relationships.

2. Phases of the conflict

In the second stage of the Thief’s Cave experience, the teachers introduced elements or situations of friction between the two participating groups, differentiating between the facts that caused conflict. Verbal confrontation increased his presence, And the kids specifically asked for competitive activities to check out who was the best.

3. Collaboration phase

Surprised at the ease with which the friction phase had unfolded, they decided to interrupt it and quickly move on to the reconciliation phase. To do this, the researchers focused on carrying out activities with a common goal of eliminating those artificial prejudices that had been created. An imaginary agent was introduced who intended to end his edible reserves.

Once again, the results were significant again. Groups A and B they decided to put aside their differences to fight a single enemy. In addition to going in the same direction, the gestures of solidarity and fraternity that have been given between them have also increased. The bad guy wasn’t the “other guy”.

revealing results

And what is the purpose of the Thief’s Cave experience? This type of research aims to clarify certain unknowns that we often ask ourselves. The results of the mentioned case showed curious data, especially since the participants were people with no particular predisposition to conflict.

The teachers were overwhelmed by the ease with which the groups came to create a sense of hatred towards others. ** It has come to the extreme of not wanting to sit with each other at noon, Avoid any kind of contact around, visual included. As we have seen previously, this phase had to be shortened.

In contrast, collaboration overlaps with confrontation just as quickly. What does this tell us? good surely the human being is more manipulable than many really think, A phenomenon very well used by the ruling, economic and scientific classes. We just need to know that something is bad or good to believe it.

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