Muzafer Sharif was a Turkish social psychologist. He wrote, “The Psychology of Norms” in 1936. He focused his interest in looking at group processes and understanding group dynamics. He conducted much of his research with his wife, Carolyn. Sherif is known for his realistic conflict theory which accounts for group conflict, stereotyping and negative prejudices as a result of competition for resources. He validated this theory in a famous experiment known as the Robbers Cave. In this experiment, Sherif sent 22 white eleven year old boys to summer camp at Robbers Cave state park. The boys were divided into two groups and assigned to cabins that were apart from each other. The boys did various camp activities together within their own group and chose a name for their group. The researchers set up competitions between the two groups and promised prizes to the winners. As the competition progressed, so did the behaviors of the boys. At the beginning verbal taunting was present, but as the competition wore on, the groups became aggressive and had to be separated by adults.
Another social psychology theory is that of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is associated with Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov was a Russian physiologist and physician as well as psychologist. Pavlov was actually investigating the dog’s digestive system when he discovered classical conditioning. Pavlov would deprive dogs of food for a day and present the dogs with a meat powder. The meat powder made the dogs salivate. Pavlov then presented a bell prior to the meat powder. After a few experiences, the dogs would salivate simply after hearing the bell. This previously negative stimuli had become associated with the food and the response of salivating became conditioned. These conditioned responses were looked at in the socialization process of humans by psychologist John Watson. John Watson was an American psychologist that conducted an experiment on a small child known as Little Albert. Through classical conditioning he conditioned Little Albert to be fearful of small white animals that previously he was not afraid of.