The fascinating true story of one of the most controversial psychological experiments of the modern era.
Competition. Prejudice. Discrimination. Conflict.
In 1954, a group of boys attended a remote summer camp in Oklahoma. There they were split into two groups, and encouraged to bully, harass, and demonise each other. The results would make history as one of social psychology’s classic studies: the Robbers Cave experiment.
Conducted at the height of the Cold War, the experiment officially had a happy ending: the boys reconciled, and psychologist Muzafer Sherif demonstrated that while hatred and violence are powerful forces, so too are cooperation and harmony. Today it is proffered as proof that under the right conditions warring groups can make peace. Yet the true story of the experiments is far more complex, and more chilling.
In The Lost Boys, Gina Perry explores the experiment and its consequences, tracing the story of Sherif, a troubled outsider who struggled to craft an experiment that would vanquish his personal demons. Drawing on archival material and new interviews, Perry pieces together a story of drama, mutiny, and intrigue that has never been told before.
About the Author
Gina Perry is an Australian psychologist and writer. She works as an online communications manager and a freelance writer in web, print, and radio. Her feature articles, columns, and essays have been published in The Age and The Australian, and her short fiction has been published in a number of literary magazines, including Meanjin, Westerly, and Island. Her co-production of the ABC Radio National documentary about the obedience experiments, ‘Beyond the Shock Machine’, won the Silver World Medal for a history documentary in the 2009 New York Festivals radio awards. She teaches in the Master of Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne.