Robbers Cave Experiment
This classic study reminiscent of Golding’s Lord of the Flies is a classic example of prejudice and conflict resolution. 22 eleven-year old boys were randomly separated into two groups and taken to a summer camp in Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma. The groups were housed in separate cabins and neither group knew of the other’s existence for an entire week. The boys bonded with their cabin mates during that time. When the two groups were introduced, they began to exhibit signs of verbal abuse. To increase the conflict between the groups, the experimenters made them compete against each other in a series of activities. More hostility ensued until the groups refused to even eat in the same room. The final phase of the experiment involved turning the rival groups into friends. The fun activities the experimenters had planned like shooting firecrackers and watching movies did not initially work, so they created teamwork exercises where the two groups were forced to collaborate. At the end of the experiment, the boys decided to ride the same bus home, demonstrating that conflict can be resolved and prejudice overcome through cooperation.
The Monster Study
Known as The Monster Study because of its unethical methods, this experiment determined the effects of positive and negative speech therapy on children. Wendell Johnson of the University of Iowa selected twenty-two orphan children, some with stutters and some without. He engaged the stutterers in positive speech therapy, praising them for their fluency, and the non-stutterers in negative speech therapy, belittling them for every mistake. As a result of the experiment, some of the children who received negative speech therapy suffered psychological effects and retained speech problems for the rest of their lives, making them examples of the significance of positive reinforcement in education.
Everyone knows yawns can be contagious, but did you know dogs are capable of “catching” yawns too? A recent study conducted at the University of London found that 72 percent of dogs caught yawns after watching a person yawn. On average, it took the dogs 99 seconds to yawn and the dogs’ ages and genders did not affect yawning. Although why this happens remains a mystery, researchers think it may have something to do with a dog’s “capacity for empathy.”
The Halo Effect
A classic finding in social psychology, the Halo Effect is the idea that our overall impression of a person can be based on one trait about them. For example, if someone has a likeable personality, people might find that person’s other qualities more appealing. In a recent experiment, a man made two videos for a dating website. In the first video, he read the script in an upbeat manner, whereas in the second, he read the same script in a more melancholy fashion. The first video was given to a one group of girls and the second was given to another group, who watched the video in a separate room. The girls who watched the upbeat video found the man to be likeable, while the girls who watched the second video found the man to be unpleasant, even though he had read the exact same script. Thus demonstrating the importance of tone in the perception of overall attractiveness and modeling the Halo Effect in action.
For centuries, identical twins have fascinated psychologists. Multiple studies have been conducted in an effort to prove the existence of a psychic connection between them. In one experiment, TV personality Derren Brown tries to show that identical twins’ possess extrasensory communication skills. Whether or not a psychic connection really exists, the twins’ similar responses to sensory stimuli indicate that shared genes, upbringings, and life experiences may cause twins to develop similar thought processes.