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5 Psychological Experiments That Show Our Dark Side
We present you the most notorious and most popular experiments of all-time. Some of the most fascinating and deplorable experiments ever conducted that proove that we do have a dark side…
1. CONFORMITY – ASCH EXPERIMENTS (1953)
An example of Asch’s experimental procedure in 1955. There are six confederates and one real participant (second to last person sitting to the right of the table).
During the 1950s, Solomon Asch conducted and published a series of laboratory experiments that demonstrated the degree to which an individual’s own opinions are influenced by those of a majority group.
Male college students participated in a simple “perceptual” task. In reality, all but one of the participants were “confederates” (i.e., actors), and the true focus of the study was about how the remaining student (i.e., the real participant) would react to the confederates’ behavior.
Only one participant was actually a genuine subject for the experiment, the rest being confederates, carefully tutored to give certain pre-selected responses. Careful experimental construction placed a varying amount of peer pressure on the individual test subject.
The experiment was simple in its construction; each participant, in turn, was asked to answer a series of questions, such as which line was longest or which matched the reference line. (Fig 1)
The participants gave a variety of answers, at first correct, to avoid arousing suspicion in the subject, but then with some incorrect responses added.
The Asch Experiment results were interesting and showed that peer pressure could have a measurable influence on the answers given.
The control group, those not exposed to peer pressure where everybody gave correct answers, threw up only one incorrect response out of 35; this could probably be explained by experimental error.
The results for the other groups were interesting; when surrounded by people giving an incorrect answer, over one third of the subjects also voiced an incorrect opinion.
At least 75% of the subjects gave the wrong answer to at least one question, although experimental error may have had some influence on this figure. There was no doubt, however, that peer pressure can cause conformity.
It was debated whether this is because people disbelieve the evidence of their own eyes or if it was just compliance, that people hide their opinions.
2. HELPING - THE GOOD SAMARITAN EXPERIMENT (1973)
The Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, if you hadn’t heard, is about a passing Samaritan helping an injured man in need, while other, self-righteous types walk right on by. Psychologists John Darley and C. Daniel Batson wanted to test if religion has any effect on helpful behavior.
The researchers had three hypotheses:
1. People thinking religious, “helping” thoughts would still be no more likely than others to offer assistance.
2. People in a hurry will be less likely to offer aid than others.
3. People who are religions in a Samaritan fashion will be more likely to help than those of a priest or Levite fashion. In other words, people who are religious for what it will gain them will be less likely than those who value religion for it’s own value or are searching for meaning in life.
The recruited seminary students for a study on religious education. First they completed personality questionnaires about their religion (to help evaluate hypothesis #3). Later they began experimental procedures in one building and then told to go to another building to continue. On the way they encountered a man slumped in an alleyway (the victims condition is unknown — hurt, or drunk?).
They varied the amount of urgency they told the subjects before sending them to the other building, and the task they would do when they got there. One task was to prepare a talk about seminary jobs, and the other about the story of the Good Samaritan. In one condition they told the subject they were late for the next task, in the other they said they had a few minutes but they should head on over anyway.
In an alleyway they passed a man sitting slumped in doorway, who moaned and coughed twice as they walked by. They set up a scale of helping:
0=failed to notice victim as in need
1=perceived need but did not offer aid
2=did not stop but helped indirectly (told the aide on their arrival)
3=stopped and asked if victim needed help
4=after stopping, insisted on taking victim inside and then left him.
5=refused to leave victim, or insisted on taking him somewhere