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Activities and Exercises
the norm - a good idea from the Teaching of Psych Idea Exchange
in the hallway - This article from the most recent issue
of Teaching of Psychology describes a simple activity
that enhances students' understanding of conformity. [added
in the classroom - Joe Wayand passed along this activity
he conducts in his classroom: When I cover the Milgram experiment,
I show some of the original Obedience film (most libraries have
it). [Ed. note: Or you can show the segment on Milgram's studies
from the "The power of the situation" episode in the
Discovering Psychology series which is freely available online
at http://www.learner.org/vod/vod_window.html?pid=1516.] I make
sure that I will run out of class time before I run out of video.
Then I tell students "I know we're almost out of time,
but I want you to stay and watch the rest of the video."
Then at about 1 minute past, I again say "I know we're
running late, but it's important that you watch the rest of
the video." The students are very restless at this point,
but typically they will stay seated. 3 minutes past... 4 minutes
past... Often I have to "let them off the hook" by
parroting the language of the experimenter: "It is essential
that you remain until the video has ended." "After
the video is over, I will rewind the video and we'll continue
watching from the beginning." Finally it will dawn on a
student that I am tricking them. As that first student gets
up to leave, I yell: "Sit down! You must remain and watch
the video!" The student usually keeps leaving, and I keep
yelling. "I'm Dr. Wayand! I demand that you return to your
seat!" At this point, half the students are smiling, and
the other half are horrified. Eventually they get the joke,
and I continue ordering them to return as they all file out
of the classroom. This really gives the students a personal
taste of the conformity that's all around us. They understand
it's not just "other people" who are subject to conformity.
At the start of the next class, we discuss what it felt like,
etc. You have to be a little brave to try this stunt, but the
students really remember it. [added
12 Angry Men - Many of you may have used the film
12 Angry Men to illustrate different social psych concepts.
Here are some more ideas of how to use the film. [added
- paper assignment that could be used as in-class activity or
Prison Experiment - synchronized slide-tape narration (80
slides) created by Philip Zimbardo and Greg White with discussion
Resources (Audio / Video)
Why people back away from successful strategies (36:18) - An interesting podcast from Malcolm Gladwell on why NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain stopped shooting free throws underhand after two seasons even though his free throw percentage was significantly improved with this technique.
Milgram - Michael Britt creates another interesting Psych Files
podcast, this one with some interesting tidbits on the original Milgram
experiments and the new replication by Burger. [added
Informational or normative influence (or both)? (5:13) - an amusing video
The autokinetic illusion study in a waiting room (3:39) - A Brain Games episode
The Milgram experiment (44:19) - a full film with original footage
Standing ovations (4:26) - a Brain Games episode
Philip Zimbardo looks back on his classic study (31:59) - And he likes the new film on his study!
Trailer for new Stanford Prison experiment film (2:45)
Noba Project video winners - As you may remember, the Noba Project has recently started conducting annual student video award contests for brief clips illustrating psychlogical principles. This year's theme was Social Influence. Here are the winners. You can also read about how your students can enter next year's contest.
happens when a guy asks random guys for a date?" (3:55) - Here
is a link to "girls asking girls." Not scientific,
but interesting discussion starters. [added
following the law violates a norm (3:06) - Interesting video of
students who decided to drive 55 (speed limit) four cars across
on the Interstate. H/T to Dennis Dew. [added
brings typewriter to class (1:43) - another funny norm violation
against everything (4:29) - another classic Candid Camera clip
-- my personal favorite [added 12/16/13]
if you predicted the end of the world and no end came? (13:19) -
Interesting video of a man who predicted the world would end
on May 21, 2011. Cameras were there to record what happened
when (spoiler alert) the world did not end. "Fueled by
his religious beliefs, Robert Fitzpatrick spent over one hundred
thousand dollars of his life savings on subway ads warning that
the world would end on May 21st, 2011. 'We Will Forget' follows
Robert in the weeks leading up to the 21st, and ultimately to
Times Square where he awaits the rapture with fellow believers,
onlookers, and naysayers." In this
blog entry, Sam Sommers reminds us of a similar prediction
and experience documented by Leon Festinger and colleagues many
years ago in their book When Prophecy Fails. [added
if a male stranger tries to hold your hand?
(2:02) - Interesting responses from males and females - an example
your students could use, carefully, to violate a social
date = sex? (1:44) - A clip from the show The Big Bang Theory
raises the question of whether "the idea that the third
date is the 'sex date,' the date when it is deemed appropriate
for a new couple to have sex" is a social norm or just
a myth. [added
Juggalo" (23:21) - You can view the full 23-minute documentary
on the interesting subculture of Juggaloes and Juggalettes that
have developed around the band Insane Clown Posse and a four-day
annual event called the Gathering. Field trip! [added
on the Juggalos - Apparently, not everyone is such a big
fan of the Insane Clown Posse -- the FBI is watching the Juggalos
for gang activity. See the September issue for a documentary
on the Juggalos and Juggalettes. [added 1/21/12]
and informational influence (2:31) - classic Candid Camera elevator
video [added 10/9/10]
Milgram (5:07) - Nope, not that Milgram study. What if several
people are staring up at a building -- what will bystanders
do? [added 7/3/09]
song about the Milgram obedience studies (2:39) - This is a link
to a video performance by Dar Williams of her song Buzzer which
is about the Milgram studies. Here
are the lyrics. Here
is an NPR interview Williams did about her music including discussion
of this song (which begins about 3 minutes, 20 seconds into
the show). [3/26/09]
in place (2:23) - An improv group had 200 people freeze in place
for five minutes in Grand Central Station. Fun stuff. [added
court musical (3:45) - More work from the same improv group. For
both of these improv videos, you and your students can discuss
possible reactions, acceptable and unacceptable. If you do anything
with these videos in your class I would love to hear how you
used them. [added 4/28/08]
norms (3:40) - an interesting, brief video of someone asking for
free hugs [added 4/15/08]
Lottery" - Apparently, this is (was) a very popular
film in high school English classes. I had never seen it before.
Based on a Shirley Jackson short story, this 18-minute film
is a very spooky look at norms, and tradition, and conformity.
Warning (and spoiler alert): Very disturbing ending. [added
a social norm (4:40) - Do you ever have your students break a social
norm? Apparently, that was the assignment for this class. Here
is the students' video capturing their efforts. [added
Principles of Social Influence to Create Prosocial Change - This
project also won honorable mention for the 2013 Social Psychology
Network Action Teaching Award. "In this action teaching assignment,
students begin by learning about six key principles of social influence
from Robert Cialdini's book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion:
(1) commitment and consistency, (2) social proof, (3) liking, (4)
reciprocation, (5) authority, and (6) scarcity. The class then selects
a social problem of concern and develops a "social change project"
that applies social influence principles to creatively and effectively
address the problem. In one case, for example, students raised over
$2,000 for a United Nations anti-malaria program and generated 200
postcards sent to the White House urging the government to stand by
its pledge to end malaria by 2015. In another case, students invited
a survivor of human trafficking to speak on campus -- an event that
drew over 300 students, faculty, staff, and community members and
helped raise $540 for anti-trafficking organizations. Other social
change projects included raising more than $1,000 to buy prosthetic
limbs for landmine victims, soliciting nearly $2,000 for Pakistan
flood relief, netting over $1,300 for Japanese tsunami relief, and,
closer to home, securing free meals for local senior citizens. These
projects served to show students how social influence techniques can
be used as prosocial influence techniques." [added
or fiction? - A list of 20 "hints" for resisting unwanted
influences from Philip Zimbardo -- you could ask students to pick
one hint from the list and evaluate its validity in terms of current
research, or have them design a test of it. (Also, find more excerpts
here from Zimbardo's book The Lucifer Effect.) [added
projects - from Phil Zimbardo's Psychology of Mind Control course
- students experience social psych first-hand by being a "Deviant
for a Day," or "an Agent or Target of Social Influence,"
or by engaging in "self-directed change"
a social norm (video) - Do you ever have your students break
a social norm? Apparently, that was the assignment for this class.
Here is the students' video capturing their efforts. [added
Norm Assignment - students identify and answer questions about
social norms - from Michael Schmitt
of ...... - Scott Plous' Day of Compassion assignment has been
posted on the Resources website for quite a while. Now I have the
pleasure of pointing you to three other similar, creative assignments
Scott engages his Social Psychology students in: Day of Nonconformity,
Day of Nonviolence, and Day of Social Justice. [added
influence application paper
The power of the situation - Billy Bush on that bus with Donald Trump
- Turkey recently banned the use of Twitter in its country. Twitter
use soared. Here
is a blog entry describing some of the possible political motivation
for the ban. [added
When talking of absoluteness, I think of a boxing strategy. I'm
sure it translates into other sports as well, but that will be my
model. No matter how bad you are hurt, you are supposed to not show
it to discourage your opponent. If he should see a weakness forming
in you, he thinks he might be able to hang on just long enough to
outlast you. This may motivate him to try even harder. If he believes
you are not even hurt, he will realize the shape he is in, feel
weak and powerless, and not see the point of trying to continue.
When it is a sure thing (or perceived sure thing) he is more likely
to give up, but if there is a chance that he may win, he will continue
or fight even harder to just put himself over the edge in the fight.
delusions - A few more cases of mass hysteria
Emotional contagion - interesting story about "witch hunts" on the internet
Behavioral contagion - False reports of shots fired at JFK airport
delusions - Apparently, the sightings of a venomous spider in
Austria led to hundreds of people thinking they had been bitten,
when most had not. [added 12/22/06]
Kokomo Hum - interesting example of social (behavioral) contagion
social control - Good blog describing how San Francisco's banning
of the sale of toys with unhealthy food is an example of what sociologists
call formal social control. [4/9/11]
"Authority" prank caller - Prank caller convinces employees at a fast-food restaurant that he is a fire official, and he convinces them to smash out the windows of the restaurant. It happened at more than one restaurant.
"Prank call led school to treat two with shock" -
Remember the incidents in which a prank caller claiming he was with
the police convinced managers and employees at fast food restaurants
to engage in despicable acts? If not, check the CROW website. Well,
here is another remarkable case of obeying an anonymous authority.
Cares: The Last of Jonestown" - "On November 18, 1978, 913 men,
women, and children --followers of cult leader Jim Jones -- died
during a mass suicide and murder in Jonestown, Guyana. In the months
preceding the tragedy, Jim Jones and his People’s Temple followers
recorded their thoughts, their problems and their aspirations. The
hundreds of hours of audiotape form the basis of the NPR documentary
Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown." (From NPR.org) You can hear
the entire 90-minute audiotape at NPR Online. Contributed by
Jim Bell. [added 4/28/02]
- This movie recreates a true story of an American high school teacher
who, in 1968, attempted to illustrate how what happened in Nazi
Germany could happen anywhere by creating a youth organization among
his students called the Third Wave. Contributed by Jim Bell. [added
Episode: Aspects of obedience are illustrated quite well in the
Soup Nazi story. Contributed by Steve Fein. [added
weeks ago I chaperoned a trip to Bloomington for the ISU high school
marching band competition. My son's last words as we got to the
high school were, "Dad, please don't embarrass me by yelling at
everyone on the bus." Much to his delight I was assigned to another
bus. I'm sure that each of these band members individually are fine
young persons. But nowhere has deindividuation been more obvious
than on that bus. Screaming, yelling, climbing over seats, and general
mayhem seemed to be the order of the day. Keeping in mind what my
son had said, I tried a little informational influence to get them
to conform to the rules. I tried to explain how they might get hurt
climbing over the seats, and how they needed to rest and conserve
energy to be at their best for the competition. That didn't work
very good. I didn't think normative influence would work because
the group norm seemed to be acting wild and crazy. I concluded that
authority influence was the only way. Several loud "SIT DOWN AND
SHUT UP" 's did the trick.
been out of the office last week. The State of Ohio called our office
regarding our company's change. He told one of the clerks that we
had to apply for a new state identification number. She advised
him that we didn't because the only thing that changed was the name
of the company, not the owners, not the business, etc. He was very
emphatic about it. After twenty minutes of going back and forth,
he advised he'd call back next week to talk to the manager. When
he called this week I said, "Yes, the only thing that changed was
the company's name." He said, "Okay, think you. That's what I needed
to know." It was as though the title of Payroll Manager gave me
the credibility the clerk did not have. Therefore, he was reluctant
to disagree with me although I told him much less than the clerk
pressure and incentives - a story from London in which local
groups and some companies are using various measures to encourage
citizens and employees to reduce their carbon footprints [added
Cults - "Scientologists descend on Minneapolis collapse site."
influence can be a key part of playing golf. For example, when I
play with three other players, we re all pretty equal. The other
day, we had an away tournament at a golf course that I never played
before. We walked up to a long par-3. I looked at the yardage and
pulled out a four iron. When I looked up, the three other players
all had three-woods in their hands. Immediately, I began to doubt
my judgment. I thought that since all three players had the same
club, they must be right. I figured that they knew something that
I didn't. I was scrambling trying to figure out what they knew that
I didn't. Because that was my first time playing that hole, I hit
what the others did. Since it was three against one, I agreed with
their choice because I thought I was wrong.
up with neighbors - I just like this picture. [added
illusion of choice - an example from Hitler [added
conformity and individuality - an amusing article from The
Onion [added 4/16/08]
applied to politics - an article from Slate.com that attempts
to apply Asch's classic line studies to the democratic presidential
primaries and Kerry's success [added 4/5/04]
dressed for work today, I thought how nice it would be to be a cashier
in a store so that I had a smock to wear at work over my clothes.
I could dress as comfortably as I wanted. It'd even be nice to be
a clerk in my office and wear comfortable shoes and slacks. But
no... I put on heels and a suit or dress every day. I am uncomfortable.
I don't do it because I feel better in them. I do it because of
the normative influence of my peers. As part of the Finance group
(all the men wear suits and ties), I want to be accepted. I am a
salaried department head. In truth I feel I'm at the bottom of this
group. Therefore to be accepted to their group I dress a certain
way. A further example of this is the hours I work. Before my promotion,
I worked 7:30-4:00. Now I am there by 8:30 a.m. and stay till 5:00.
The reason is that the rest of the group stays that late, if not
later. Further, my boss once remarked that the "professional staff
usually works till 5:00." Again to be part of that group and to
be accepted, I stay that late every day. I suppose I also accept
the fact that it is correct to stay till 5:00 because everyone does
(informational social influence).
social norms - Hey, who put those pink flamingos on my lawn?
"The flamingos were placed there by someone other than the
home's resident to get the homeowner to donate money. In order to
have the flamingos removed, the recipient needed to make a donation.
The recipient is also encouraged to "flock" a friend's
lawn in order to get them to contribute as well." [added
in language - Marianne Miserandino pointed me to this cool map
of the common names for soft drinks used in different parts of the
U.S. I grew up in the South where we called soft drinks "cokes."
So, if you went into a restaurant and asked for a coke, the waitperson
would often ask "What kind?" Then you might say "Sprite."
- Eric Hansen, from Sweden, passed along this example: "The Swedes
have a phenomenon (or in this case sort of a norm) they call Jantelagen
(pronounced Yanta lagen). I think it comes originally from Denmark.
I myself am a US citizen who moved to Sweden in 1997, so I do not
have Swedish culture as my own, which is probably both an advantage
and a disadvantage. I probably notice things my colleagues don't,
but don't have the background to understand them as fully they would
once I recognize them. Anyway, this Jantelagen, which I believe
means Jante's law can be interpreted as a strong norm against extolling
one's virtues and achievements.
of my students once sent me the following "satirical" 10 commandments
related to Jantelagen: taken from a source I could probably find.
I believe it is a book called En flykting kryssar sitt spor (1933)
by Aksel Sandmose.
is a direct translation of what they mean, in some cases with my
interpretation in parentheses.
Jantelagen (10 satiriska budord) - Jantelagen 10 satirical commandments
1. Du skall icke tro att du är något. -- You (thou) shall not believe
that you are something. (You should not believe you are something
Du skall icke tro, att du är lika god som vi. -- You shall not believe
that you're as good as we are.
Du shall icke tro, att du är klokare än vi. -- You shall not believe
you are wiser than we are.
Du skall icke tro, att du är bättre än vi. -- You shall not believe
that you're better than we are.
Du skall icke tro, att du vet mer än vi. -- You shall not believe
that you know more than we do.
Du skall icke tro, att du är förmer än vi. -- You shall not believe
that you are superior to us.
Du skall icke tro, att du duger något till. -- You shall not believe
that you're good enough for anything.
Du skall icke skratta åt oss. -- You shall not laugh at us.
Du skall icke tro, att någon bryr sig om dig. -- You shall not think
anyone cares about you. (an interesting aside, there was recently
a giant hit song with the chorus nobody cares where you bought your
sweater, I know it doesn't translate so well, but the point they
were trying to make in the song was that you're not as important
as you think).
Du skall icke tro, att du kan lära oss något. -- You shall not believe
you can teach us anything.
on this "law" I am currently running a study in collaboration with
a colleague in the States which makes a cross-cultural comparison
of the self-serving bias. The idea is that Swedes are less likely
to extol their virtues than Americans, unless permitted to do so
anonymously. I view it as a type of false modesty, meaning I think
Swedes privately think they are better than other people, but are
loathe to talk about it publicly. I have some preliminary data that
show significant differences in estimates of oneself compared to
estimates of the "average other" in Swedes when ratings are made
anonymously. In a follow up (being run now) I am investigating what
happens when ratings are made publicly." [added 7/5/06]
years ago I was very uncomfortable working for my boss. He was old
enough to be my father; he was well-mannered and polite and generally
a very nice man. However, when he would stand and speak to me, he
would move so that his nose was almost touching mine. At first I
thought he was hard of hearing and needed to stand close so he could
understand me. But I quickly found that wasn't the case. I worked
for him for two years thinking he was just weird in that regard.
After reading our textbook, it finely hit me (11 years later) that
he had picked up customs and habits from South America, which is
where he had lived just prior to my working with him. Now I understand
that he wasn't just a dirty old man but had been following the socially
acceptable behavior standards from his former home.
often hear a quote like "outside of work my boss/peer/subordinate
is a lot of fun." Why are statements like that made? Because in
many cases we (all) are a different person. For a boss their is
no pressure to get the job done. For a peer there is no need to
claw (competition is over). For a subordinate there is no reason
to dislike her job/boss/rules, etc. The situation indeed is very
powerful and many times dictates our behavior -- what people expect
Will you follow the new social rules about what to do in public? - This is a fascinating topic for social psychology. When laws don't require it, or even if they do, when will we follow rules or guidelines about wearing a mask and other behaviors, and what factors will most likely influence our decisions? Why do we see more rule following in some countries than others? What might lead a behavior to become a new norm? PANDEMIC
"How to use psychology to convince people to take social distancing seriously" - PANDEMIC
“An opt-out donor organ system might actually lead to fewer transplants”
Bad behavior by others leads us to want to restore social order - by buying more popular brands of food!
How movements can get started - Interesting analysis of how the #metoo phenomenon could evolve into a long-term movement instead of just being a momentary focus
"The psychology of taking a knee" - interesting discussion around the recent protests in sports
Are you "green to be seen" or "brown to get down"? - Interesting study looks at how we signal valued group membership through the behaviors we choose. For example, if you are an environmentalist you will seek out visible behaviors that signal that membership (green to be seen), whereas if you don't see yourself as an environmentalist you will avoid visible pro-environment behaviors (brown to get down).
Joining a crowd and your health - This research describes both positive and negative effects on health from joining a crowd of others. Here is a blog entry from David Myers that may be relevant. Some new research suggests some health benefits from religious engagement.
The brain and conformity - Fascinating article in the APS Observer about new research looking at how our brain primes us for conformity.
Responses to littering in New York and Bern - Some simple, interesting studies your students could replicate.
What are the most and least acceptable white lies? - A survey conducted by Directv asked individuals to rate how severe certain white lies are. I'm telling you the truth. Go look for yourself.
bad experiences increase group cohesion - including bad bosses
inequality promotes status seeking - Although this remarkable
finding is coming from respected columnist Wray Herbert, I still
want to see the research article before I can believe it. Researchers
tested the hypothesis that greater income inequality leads to more
status seeking which leads to more desiring/purchasing of high status
goods. They found that Google searches in states in the U.S. with
greater income inequality targeted luxury and high-status goods
70% of the time. What % of searches for such high-status goods were
conducted in more income equal states? ZERO PERCENT! WHAT?!? I know,
it seems impossible for it to be ZERO. I look forward to the article
in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science. I couldn't find a
draft of the article online anywhere yet. If you find one please
send me the link. ZERO?? [added
people to agree to commit bad deeds - "Vanessa Bohns and
her colleagues first asked 52 student participants (31 women) to
estimate how many people they'd have to approach on campus in order
to get three people to tell a white lie. The lie was to sign a form
saying the participant had given them a verbal introduction to a
new university course, when really he/she had done no such thing.
After making the estimate, the participants went out on campus to
test their persuasiveness. On average, the participants thought
they'd have to ask 8.47 people before 3 agreed; in reality they
needed on average to ask just 4.39. In all, 91 per cent of the participants
overestimated how many people they'd need to approach."
with government policies (e.g., taxation) - Interesting research
suggesting that a combination of high power and high trust promotes
the most compliance from citizens [added
psych researching is changing lives - The most recent issue
of the APS Observer has a nice article about how psychological
research findings are being used to improve people's lives. [added
an initial positive rating is surprisingly influential"
- "Lev Muchnik and his colleagues tested this possibility experimentally.
Collaborating with a news-sharing website they randomly assigned
either a positive or negative first-rating, or no rating (control
condition), to 101,281 real comments posted over 5 months. This
simple manipulation had a significant effect on the way other site
users subsequently rated the comments." [added
are adept at picking up social cues" - This is an awesome
study! You must read it. No, this is not a "social cues"
joke. It's just that good. I love it! [added 8/12/13]
the handicapped symbol - Sam Sommers describes the interesting
move to update the blue handicapped symbol of someone in a wheelchair
to a more active, forward-moving version. Take a look; will it change
attitudes or behaviors? [added 8/12/13]
licensing effect - If you have just exercised do you give yourself
the license to eat something fattening? In other words, might your
good intentions backfire in some instances? This blog entry describes
a fascinating study: "Participants were told that they would
be evaluating a new brand of scissors. Part of the evaluation process
required them to rate how good the scissors were at cutting out
shapes (such as triangles and squares) from a stack of approximately
200 sheets of plain, white paper. Half the participants tested the
scissors in a room where there werent any recycling facilities,
only a trash can. The other half completed the task in a room where
recycling facilities were available in addition to a regular trash
can. The participants were purposely not given any specific instructions
about the sizes of the shapes or the amount of paper that they should
use in the task. Instead they were simply told to dispose of any
scraps in the receptacle(s) provided and then complete a green
attitude questionnaire that asked them about their beliefs
and attitudes towards the environment. The results were quite simply
staggering. Participants who evaluated the pair of scissors when
recycling facilities were available used nearly three times more
paper than the group who didnt have recycling facilities.
Interestingly this increase in the use of resources occurred regardless
of how positive the participants green attitudes
were as measured in the post study questionnaire." [added
gay marriage snowball and political change" - agood essay
on how a culture can change rapidly on an important social issue
good people behave badly" - Good blog entry from Sam Sommers
in which he is probably going to tell you that Situations Matter,
or some hooey like that [added
significance of social structure" - a good essay on the
role structure plays in our lives [added
power of small increments - good blog entry from Sam Sommers
on how we often overlook the power of incremental change in behaviors
that gradually increase over time such as the errors in politicians'
calories consumed after calorie information posted in restaurants
- [added 2/8/10]
Syndrome - Interesting article in which the authors "argue
that many of our elected leaders have shown signs of 'Hubris Syndrome'
- a form of acquired personality disorder....The key concept, they
write, is that hubris syndrome is a disorder of the possession of
power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming
success, held for a period of years and with minimal constraint
on the leader." Is this really a personality type or the power
of the situation? [added
differences in susceptibility to mindlessness" - If someone
tried to jump in line at the copier within an inane excuse would
you still give in? What if you were high in need for cognition?
High in self-monitoring? [added
pressure in music preference - Here's an interesting article
in which "sociologist Matthew Salganik and his colleagues at
Columbia University set out to test the theory that music listeners
simply like the music they know other people enjoy." [added
- Kipling Williams offers downloads of Cyberball, "a virtual
ball-toss game that can be used for research on ostracism, social
exclusion, or rejection." Could also be used for lab activities.
defaults save lives?" - very interesting article analyzing
opt-in and opt-out strategies in Europe to promote organ donation
-- a good, short read for students [added 6/15/04]
Nails: The Tobacco Controvery in the 19th Century"
- This site draws on text, cartoons and ads from Harper's Weekly,
1857-1912, to describe the health concerns already present about
tobacco and responses to it. [added 7/16/03]
Nudges and Nudging
“Nudging the city and residents of Cape Town to save water”
Tragedy of the Commons, use of norms, fear appeals, and more - David Myers shares this example from Cape Town’s severe water shortage and its efforts to encourage citizens to conserve.
When and where do nudges work? - A "nudge" is an intervention "that preserves freedom of choice, but steers people in a particular direction."
"When and why does rudeness sometimes spread round the office?" - "When our ability to regulate our thoughts and behaviors is running thin"
"Investigating social contagion with digital tools" - Recent study finds that the memory of one individual can indirectly influence that of another via shared social connections."
Extraverts mimic more than introverts - But no difference was found for agreeableness.
fears turn into an epidemic of racism and hysteria" - [added
contagion of others' attitudes - Sam Sommers identifies a number
of situations where the presence of others shapes our preferences
and views. [added
makes mimicry backfire" - "It's one of the first rules
of persuasion: mimic subtly your conversation partner's movements
and body language (with a slight delay), and they'll perceive you
to be more attractive and trustworthy. Being mimicked, so long as
it's not too blatant, apparently leaves us in a better mood and
more likely to be helpful to others." However, "reminders
of money reverse the benefits of mimicry - leading mimics to be
liked less, and the mimicked to feel threatened. It all has to do
with the selfish, egocentric mindset triggered by money. And in
that context, the researchers say, being mimicked is uncomfortable
because it gives people the sense that 'their autonomy is being
hysteria and chemical leaks - "Mass hysteria and not leaked
chemicals was the likely cause of the symptoms experienced by those
exposed in 16 per cent of hundreds of chemical leaks recorded in
England and Wales between January 2007 and April 2008." [added
behavior among humans and other animals - interesting blog entry
describing why animals evolved the ability to coordinate novel behaviors,
such as the fascinating video included of a flock of starlings avoiding
a predator [added 3/8/10]
and differentiation in unethical behavior" - "We're
influenced by our chances of getting caught, by how much attention
we're paying to the ethical issues involved, and whether or not
people like us are doing it. And we reserve special disdain for
our rivals, taking care not to behave in the unethical ways they
do." [added 1/19/10]
power of mimicry - [added 4/18/09]
partners coordinate eye movements" - interesting study
looking at how even separated conversants coordinate eye gaze [added
chameleon effect in 3-D virtual reality - Very interesting study
in which subjects wearing a virtual reality headset viewed a character
who was programmed to mimic the subjects' movements. What did they
find? You can also read the research
article. [added 9/22/05]
and Normative Influence
acceptance and rejection - A ScienceDaily article about
a good Current Directions in Psychological Science article
reviewing research on acceptance and rejection [added
environments and new norms" - This blog entry can get students
to think about new physical environments they encounter, and how
they navigate the norms and expected behaviors of them. [added
social norms - Excellent article using the change in foot-binding
custom in China to discuss how norms can be changed within a society
-- this article would combine well with the one below on reducing
Islamophobia to discuss how social change can occur. [added
social norms, and social structure" - good blog entry which
uses the norms of driving as an analogy for the norms and structure
of society [added 12/22/10]
phone etiquette - This list of 15 rules provides a nice example
for a discussion of how norms are formed, transmitted, changed,
is the new handshake - Interesting New York Times article
describes an apparent trend in which teenagers regular hug each
other as greetings, including between males. [added
cartoon - [added 4/18/09]
- What? Yeah, I had never heard of this Amish tradition during which
teenagers "get to experience non-Amish life so they can decide
whether they want to commit to their parents' culture and traditions....
during the time of Rumspringa, the youth are free to wear modern
clothes, use technology, and may experiment with drink, drugs and
sex - on the basis that the Amish want their youth to freely enter
their tradition having had the opportunity to experience the alternative."
You are encouraged to be a non-conformist so you can see if you
want to conform or not, and make a commitment to that conformity.
use of advertising in China - "A new study in the Journal
of Consumer Research looks at the role advertising has played in
China's transformation. Authors Xin Zhao (University of Hawaii at
Manoa) and Russell W. Belk (York University, Toronto) analyzed advertisements
in the Chinese media for clues on how sociological and ideological
change has taken place in the People's Republic. Advertising is
the major propaganda vehicle for consumerism, and an excellent arena
to explore China's changing values, explain the authors: 'We examine
how advertising appropriates a dominant anti-consumerist political
ideology to promote consumption within China's social and political
social control to "curb incivilities" - Which makes
you more angry: Seeing someone failing to pick up his dog's poop,
or seeing someone littering? This blog entry describes some research
on efforts to reduce such incivilities. [added
Hippie society - Okay, raise your mouse, how many of you were
once hippies? Are still hippies? This site provides a lot of info
about hippie life back in the mid to late 60s. It describes "hippie
life" in Canada and the U.S. Which makes me wonder -- were
there "hippies" in other countries? Was there a hippie
movement in Madagascar? Nepal? Texas? [added 11/18/07]
across the decades
- Fun site that describes the most popular U.S. fads from the 1920s,
30s, 40s, ... up to the 90s. Good discussion starters or source for
comparison or analysis. Or, just relive your past. [added
it the person or the job? - "Bankers become dishonest when
reminded of their professional identity." The researchers did
not find that for some other professions. [added
it the role or the person? - Interesting study looks at the
interesting question of whether people in a certain situation act
that way because of the context or chose that context because of
who they are. In this case, the military is the context. Does the
military change your personality? Do certain personalities choose
the military? [added
Was the Stanford Prison Experiment a “fraud”? - This article and a second one have attacked Zimbardo's study.
Zimbardo and colleagues responded to the attacks here.
new film on the Stanford Prison Study - [added
BBC prison study website goes live" - "The British
social psychologists, professors Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher,
have put together a wonderful, resource-packed website that documents
the science and issues behind their BBC Prison Study conducted and
broadcast in 2001/2002." [added
of prison on prison guards
- good summary of book (Newjack) by journalist Ted Conover about
his undercover experience as a guard in a prison
British variation of the Stanford prison experiment
- an attempt to create a prison simulation for a television show
Milgram's obedience study - Jerry Berger, who conducted the
replication of Milgram's famous obedience study, is now suggesting
that perhaps many of the participants in Milgram's and his own
study were less motivated by obedience to authority and more motivated
by a desire for "acting out of character in certain circumstances."
Read about the evidence he has uncovered. [added
obedience studies turned into "game show" - You
may have heard about this. A documentary of sorts for French television
created a mock game show, The Game of Death, "with a roaring
crowd and a glamorous and well-known hostess urging the players
on. But the contestants did not know they were taking part in
an experiment to find out whether television could push them to
outrageous lengths, and which has prompted comparisons with the
atrocities of Nazi Germany....The game? Posing questions to another
''player'' and punishing him with up to 460 volts of electricity
when he gets them wrong - even until his cries of ''Let me go!''
fall silent and he appears to have died. Not knowing that the
screaming victim is really an actor, the apparently reluctant
contestants yield to the orders of the presenter and chants of
''Punishment!'' from a studio audience who also believed the game
was real." Apparently, 81% of the contestants went all the
way to 460 volts, more than the 60%+ in Milgram's studies. Here
is a second story about the show which includes a little video.
Milgram's "experiment" - interesting first person
account of someone who did not go all the way as one of the
first subjects in Milgram's obedience study [added
of Milgram's obedience studies - I imagine many of you watched
ABC's Dateline show in which they re-created Milgram's classic
study. I thought Dateline did a good job of capturing and explaining
it. At the first link above, you can view a 5:50 clip that replays
parts of the show. Very useful for class. One of the most disturbing
pieces within the program was when it provided a real-life episode
of employees at a fast-food restaurant following the commands
of a stranger on the phone pretending to be a police officer.
Very disturbing what followed. As it turns out, the individual
allegedly responsible for that phone call and what followed
apparently had done this more than 60 times across the country.
concerns of the re-creation - Jerry Burger, who conducted
the re-creation of Milgram's studies, describes the steps
he went through to insure an ethical yet faithful replication.
Holocaust - lots of resources and links related to the Holocaust
of the Holocaust" -
a new project from The British Library that includes audio and
written recordings from survivors who live in Great Britain
Cult News Network - This website provides links to current news
stories about a variety of cults. [added 10/19/07]
Controversies - resources from the Washington Post describing
various controversial cults since the 1950s [added
(Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network) "focuses on protecting
freedom of mind from harms caused by all forms of mind control and
unethical influence" - lots of information and resources on
cults, scientology and attempts at mind control [added
- extensive resources on "brainwashing" and other aspects
of cults - from the Religious Movements Page [added
resources on the massacre - This site from NPR provides audio
of stories about the event, an interview with a survivor, images
of the massacre, review of the events and more. [added
resources on the massacre from the Department of Religious Studies
at San Diego State University - The Department has created a website
entitled, Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples
Temple," which provides a 25th anniversary review, personal
reflections, tape transcripts and more. [added 3/19/04]
Books, and Book Chapters (available online)
R. & Kim, J. (2007). Share,
steal, or buy? A social cognitive
perspective of music downloading.
CyberPsychology & Behavior,
J. E., Vohs, K. D., & Smeesters,
D. (2011). Money
and mimicry: When being mimicked
makes people feel threatened.
Psychological Science, 22,
R. J., Ferraro, R., Chartrand, T.
L., Bettman, J. R., & Baaren,
R. V. (2008). Of
chameleons and consumption: The
impact of mimicry on choices and
preferences. Journal of Consumer
Research, 34, 754-766.
2000-2021. This site was created and is maintained by Jon
Mueller, Professor of Psychology at North
Central College, Naperville, IL. Send comments to Jon.