Who is Muzaffer Sherif (Muzafer Sherif)?June 26, 2021
Muzaffer Şerif is a Turkish social psychologist, thinker and writer.
He was born in 1906 as the child of a wealthy family in the Ödemiş district of İzmir.
After graduating from Izmir American College, he graduated from Istanbul Dârü’l-Fünûnu (University) Faculty of Letters, Department of Philosophy (1928). In 1929, he went to the USA to study psychology. He was with famous psychologists such as Robert Woodworth (1869-1962) and Edwin G. Boring (1886-1968). However, he also trained himself in the fields of sociology, anthropology, political science, economics and history. Especially with his studies, he succeeded in gaining a distinguished place in the history of psychology. He was particularly influenced by Gordon Allport (1897-1967), the founder of personality psychology. He experienced the Great Economic Depression of 1929 and its social consequences. After receiving his master’s degree from Harvard University in 1932, he moved to Germany. There he met Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), one of the founders of Gestalt Psychology, and witnessed the rise of Nazism.
Sharif returned to the United States in 1933, but as he became interested in social development, he left Harvard University and moved to Columbia University. There he met Gardner Murphy (1895-1979) and began working with him because of the similarity of his political views. In 1935, he finished his doctoral study titled “Some Social Factors in Perception” and published it as a book under the name “The Psychology of Social Norms” (1936) with Murphy’s support. In his work, which made a big impression, he examined how a person is affected by the groups he is a member of, and experimentally showed that social rules are determined according to the group and that the rules change as the groups change.
Muzaffer Şerif Başoğlu returned to Turkey in 1937. He first taught psychology at the Gazi Education Institute, and in 1939 he was appointed as an associate professor of psychology at the Philosophy Institute of the Faculty of Language, History and Geography at AU. He wrote scientific and political articles in leading newspapers and magazines of the period such as “Tan”, “Insan” and his colleague Behice Boran’s “Yurt ve Dünya” and “Adımlar”. He later collected these writings in a book called “The Changing World” (1945). In his book “Racial Psychology” published in 1943, he argued that the “superior race” argument, one of the pillars of German Fascism, was put forward by the invading powers during the developmental periods of imperialism. He criticized Nazism and the “Turkism Movement” inspired by this teaching. In 1944, he was prosecuted and arrested for making political propaganda in his lectures. But with the support of his friends and teachers in the USA, he was released from prison four months later and sent abroad.
Although Sharif wanted to return to Turkey later, he stayed in the United States, thinking that his marriage to an American lady would cause problems. He went to the University of Oklahoma in 1949 and remained there until 1966. He retired from Pennsylvania Park University in the early 1980s. Muzaffer Şerif Başoğlu, who is known for his studies examining the conflict and solidarity processes between groups with adolescents, has written many books and articles and entered the world literature with an experiment named after him: “Sherif Experiment”.
He was arrested in 1944 for making political propaganda in his lectures. After his release, he resigned from his position at the university, believing that the political environment of the period was not suitable for free scientific work. In 1945, he went to the United States, accepting an invitation from Princeton University while he was in prison. After teaching at this university for a while, he transferred to Yale University in 1946. Later, at the University of Oklahoma, he founded the famous Group Relations Institute, where many experiments in social psychology were to be conducted in the future. He retired from Pennsylvania Park University in the early 1980s. Sherif’s main goal in his scientific work is to help establish a “science of man” within the social sciences. According to him, social psychology, which is the scientific study of experiment and behavior in the sociocultural environment, has the opportunity to make an important contribution to the creation of such a science. Individuals are not only affected by the socio-cultural characteristics of the groups they were born into and grew up in, but also created the culture with historical events such as war, peace and revolution. Therefore, in order to understand human events, it is necessary to understand the reaction processes of individuals towards the whole environment, especially the sociocultural environment, and its characteristics. Sherif began his scientific studies in the 1930s, when the question of how to fill the gap between the laboratory research of psychologists and the orientation of sociologists and cultural anthropologists came to the fore. Together with the US psychologist Gardner Murphy (1895-1979), he argued that this gap could be filled by examining the effects of social rules (norms) on basic psychological processes such as perception, judgment and remembering through laboratory experiments.
Sherif is uncertain