Sherif, Muzafer, 1906-1988

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Muzafer Sherif (1906-1988) was a renowned social psychologist, famous for his 1954 "Robber's Cave" experiment. This study was widely regarded as the most successful field experiment on intergroup conflict and prejudice up until that point in history. Sherif received a bachelor of arts degree from the Izmir International College (1927); a master's degree from the University of Istanbul and three years later from Harvard University, and a doctorate from Columbia (psychology, 1935). A member of the Pennsylvania State University faculty from 1966 to 1972, he also served on the faculty of state universities in Oklahoma and Texas, as well as at Princeton and Yale universities. He authored more than seventeen books on social psychology. He and his wife, Dr. Carolyn Sherif, associate professor of psychology at Penn State, formed one of the country's top teams in the field of social psychology and coauthored or edited many books and textbooks. He died on 16 October 1988.

From the description of Muzafer Sherif galley proofs, 1960-1966. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 722444250

Muzafer Sherif (1906-1988)

Muzafer Serif Basoglu, who would later anglicize his name to Muzafer Sherif, was born on July 29, 1906 in Odemis, Izmir, Turkey. He received his B.A. in 1927 at the Izmir International College. Afterwards, he obtained two Master's degrees. His first M.A. came from the University of Istanbul in 1929. He then traveled to the United States and obtained his second M.A. from Harvard University in 1932. Upon receiving this degree, he traveled to Berlin in order to hear some of Wolfgang Kohler's lectures. He became an instructor at the Gazi Institute in Ankara before returning to graduate school at Columbia University. Muzafer studied under Gardner Murphy during this time and his dissertation, "Some Social Factors in Perception," dealt with the autokinetic effect. He graduated from Columbia with his Ph.D. in 1935. His dissertation was later elaborated into his first publication, The Psychology of Social Norms, in 1935.

In 1937, following his Ph.D., Sherif returned to Turkey, first returning to the Gazi Institute as an assistant professor. Later, he taught at Ankara University in 1939. During this time, Sherif began to criticize Nazi views, which led to his four-month imprisonment. With the help of the U.S. Department of State, Hadley Cantril, Leonard Doob, and Gardner Murphy, Muzafer was released and he once again returned to the United States.

In 1945, he started work at Princeton as a Fellow of the U.S. State Department. During this time he met research assistant Carolyn Wood; they married that same year. From 1947-1949, Sherif was a Rockefeller Research Fellow at Yale University. He conducted research in Carl Hovland's Yale Communications Research Program dealing with attitude and attitude change. Together, Sherif and Hovland wrote Social Judgment: Assimilation and Contrast Effects in Communication and Attitude Change .

Starting in 1949, Sherif was a professor at the University of Oklahoma. At this university, he founded the Institute of Group Relations in 1952 and was the director of this institute. While at the University of Oklahoma, Sherif was involved in several camp studies starting in 1949 (published as Groups in Harmony and Tension), and continued in 1953 and 1954 (Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment). Sherif also conducted studies on natural groups among adolescents (Reference Groups: An Exploration into Conformity and Deviation of Adolescents). Sherif became a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pennsylvania State University from 1965-1966, and accepted a position as professor in the sociology department there. At Pennsylvania State University, Sherif initiated and became director of the Psychosocial Studies Program.

In 1972, Sherif retired to Professor Emeritus status. Sherif died on October 16, 1988. He published 24 books (including the textbooks An Outline of Social Psychology and Social Psychology) and more than 60 articles and chapters.

Carolyn Wood Sherif (1922-1982)

Carolyn Wood was born on June 26, 1922 in Loogootee, Indiana. She received a B.S. with Highest Distinction in Science in 1943 from Purdue University. After making the decision to pursue psychology, she attended the State University of Iowa, studying under Wendell Johnson. She graduated from Iowa with an M.A. in Psychology after finishing her Master's thesis, "Changes in Successive Reproduction of Verbal Material." Upon graduation, she began conducting survey research at Audience Research, Inc. Henry Cantril offered her a research position with Muzafer Sherif at Princeton. In 1945, the two married.

Wood Sherif pursued her Ph.D. at Columbia, working with Clifford Morgan and Fred Keller. She left Columbia in 1947 before finishing her graduate work. Wood Sherif was a research associate for the Institute of Group Relations, which was founded by Muzafer Sherif, at the University of Oklahoma from 1959-1965. During this time, she decided to return to graduate school at the University of Texas. She studied under Wayne Holtzman and Robert Blake and graduated in 1961 with a Ph.D. in psychology, along with a minor in sociology. Data from her dissertation, "Established Reference Scales and Series Effects in Social Judgment" was later used in an article published for the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology entitled "Social Categorization as a Function of Latitude of Acceptance and Series Range."

From 1945, Wood Sherif was involved in numerous research projects with Muzafer Sherif. Among these projects were several textbooks such as An Outline of Social Psychology and Social Psychology, as well as numerous studies, including "Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment" and studies on natural groups, which appeared in Reference Groups: An Exploration into Conformity and Deviation of Adolescents . Wood Sherif also completed numerous independent research projects, mainly dealing with women's issues and sports psychology, and a textbook entitled Orientation in Social Psychology.

On July 23, 1982, Carolyn Wood Sherif died of colon cancer before she could fulfill her appointment as editor to the Journal of Social Issues .

From the guide to the Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif papers, 1924-1992, (Center for the History of Psychology)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Carl Iver Hovland papers, 1941-1961 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif papers, 1924-1992 Center for the History of Psychology
referencedIn Hovland, Carl Iver, 1912-. Carl Iver Hovland papers, 1941-1961 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Sherif, Muzafer, 1906-1988. Muzafer Sherif galley proofs, 1960-1966. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Hovland, Carl Iver, 1912- person
associatedWith Sherif, Carolyn W. person
associatedWith Sherif, Carolyn W. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Robbers Cave State Park (Okla.)
Social groups
Social psychology
Social scientists--Archives
Interpersonal relations
Social sciences
Group relations
Robbers Cave study


Birth 1906-07-29

Death 1988-10-16





Ark ID: w6km6rrj

SNAC ID: 16267602