7 Week Study Program for
"The Bond"

By Lynne McTaggart


WEEK FIVE
Talk for Speakers
Study Group Material



Week Five Message for Speakers

The lessons of Robber’s Cave: How ‘We’re-all-in-this-together’ Builds Community

Preparation: Chapter 11 of The Bond

SUMMARY:
One of the most beloved psychological studies of group behavior involves a group of 12-year-old, highly antagonistic boys at summer camp. A series of crises in the camp were only resolved with the resources and participation of all of the boys. When the Robbers Cave children were given a common goal and purpose – larger than themselves and their group – they readily put aside their differences to work together cooperatively as a superorganism.

Psychologists call this a superordinate goal – a goal only achieved by large cooperative teamwork of two or more people. Engaging in sharing and teamwork tends to transcend differences, because it emphasizes the very heart of humanity — we are all in this together.

FULL TEXT:

This sermon emphasizes the power of ‘we’re all in this together’ – how common and larger purpose creates instant closeness and cooperation in any social situation. It may also touch upon the power of the larger goal to revitalize any social situation – in your office or neighborhood – to create a close-knit and cooperative community.

The sermon may center on one of the most beloved psychological studies of group behavior, which involved a group of 12-year-old, highly antagonistic boys at summer camp, who were placed into two groups.

For the first several days, the camp counselors (a team of psychologists) encouraged each group to engage in activities to solidify their bond with members of their own group, then engineered situations designed to be highly competitive and frustrating in order to deliberately bring the two groups in conflict. After a while, the experimenters didn’t have to stoke the prejudice between groups. The growing animosity ended in a fierce fistfight that the counselors had to break up.

The psychologists then created a series of crises that were only resolved with the resources and participation of all of the boys. When the Robbers Cave children were given a common goal and purpose – larger than themselves and their group – they readily put aside their differences to work together cooperatively as a superorganism. Ultimately, they befriended each other and unanimously voted to travel home together on the same bus.

Psychologists call this a superordinate goal – a goal only achieved by large cooperative teamwork of two or more people. This study demonstrates that schoolboys indeed are fully capable of turning cruel and bullying toward each other if they are placed in opposing groups and forced to compete over scarce resources. Engaging in sharing and teamwork tends to transcend differences, because it emphasizes the very heart of humanity — we are all in this together.

Possible topics of focus:
• People who fire together wire together; whenever a group works together for a common goal, the brains of all parties begin to get on the same wavelength — strengthening the bond within the group.

• When we work with others for a common purpose, the science shows that we very quickly and literally get on their wavelengths. Working together in this fashion create collective brain-wave resonance – at the office, at home and in your neighborhood – to create greater cooperation

• Shared activity also creates a ramped-up endorphin release in us, raising pain thresholds, improving individual efforts and ultimately raising our game.




 

Week Five Lesson for Study Groups

People Who Fire Together Wire Together

Reading guide: Chapter 11 of The Bond.

This week we use the Robber’s Cave Experiment to examine the power of a larger, communal (‘superordinate’) goal and how it can transform the atmosphere in your neighborhood or office from ‘me against them’ to ‘all of us pulling together.’ It may also touch upon the power of the larger goal to revitalize any social situation – in your office or neighborhood – and create a close-knit and cooperative community.

You may also wish to explore specific practices that may turn your community into a communal ‘savings’ bank, to ease individual worries during hard times and create bonding in the process.

The scientific evidence shows that people who fire together wire together; whenever a group works together for a common goal, the brains of all parties begin to get on the same wavelength — strengthening the bond within the group.

Engaging in sharing and teamwork tends to transcend differences, because it emphasizes the very heart of humanity — we are all in this together. Coming together in small groups with a superordinate goal provides a social cohesion beyond money, job or size of property.

Shared activity also creates a ramped-up endorphin release in us, raising pain thresholds, improving individual efforts and ultimately raising our game.

Discussion Topics:

• What are the lessons of the Robber’s Cave Experiment for today?
Challenge: think of a superordinate goal that your group could pursue in your community in order to unite people who are presently polarized.

• Why does a ‘superordinate goal’ unite people so well?
Challenge: What practices might you suggest to transform the atmosphere in your office from ‘me against them’ to ‘all of us pulling together’?

• What tips can you gain from the South Africa’s rugby and Oxford’s rowing teams, the Chilean Miners, the Tailholt experience with their community water pipeline and Nour Hakkim, the Syrian translator, about creating more united community?
Challenge: Can you think of three communal practices to establish in your neighborhood as a way of making your neighborhood safer, more vibrant – and closer?

• In Okinawa, the Japanese like to handle their money through a ‘moai,’ turning a trusted set of friends of neighbors into a savings bank. How could we adapt this idea in our neighborhoods?
Challenge: Think of three ways to create a neighborhood ‘savings bank,’ to help each other when times are hard. The bank doesn’t have to hold money, but can help with back yards or house repair.

Weekly exercise: As a group, decide on a specific project in your community about which people of all religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds and political persuasions feel equally passionate. Set up a committee to begin working on getting the project underway. Once you have the basics of the project, organize another committee whose job is to invite people of differing beliefs or cultures to join in the project. Take note of whether working together for a common goal begins to bring you closer together.