10 Psychological Experiments That Show How Deceptive People Can Be
The development of psychology and, more specifically, experimental psychology in the 19th and 20th centuries allowed scientists to study the biological processes in the human brain, emotions, behavior, and reactions. This information gives us an understanding of our own actions. It also makes it easier for people to sell something or to control others. Do you believe this?
If you don’t, then read about these 10 psychological experiments that we at Bright Side have collected for you. They won’t just help you to better understand the nature of society, but also will let you know more about yourself. Some of them will most likely shock you.
10. Carlsberg experiment: “Even a small child may have a knife behind their back!”
The description of the experiment: imagine a cinema hall with 148 tattoed bikers in it and just 2 free seats in the middle. You’ve bought the tickets, but would you take your seats or would you leave? The Carlsberg company made such an experiment.
The result: the kind bikers happily cheered the brave people who decided to take their seats and even gave them beer. The experiment showed that one should never judge others by appearance.
9. Conformity effect of Solomon Asch: “I would rather agree with everyone than be different.”
The description of the experiment: Solomon Asch wanted to demonstrate the power of conformity in a group. Conformity is when a person’s behavior changes under the pressure of someone’s else’s opinion, which can even be wrong. The participants of the experiment needed to estimate the length of lines on the board, find the equal one, name the color of the pyramid, or tell someone their own names. In all the experiments, all the participants but one were actors, and the real subject was always the last to give the answer.
The result: in 75% of all cases the subject followed the majority even if it was clear that the answer was wrong. Those who did express their real opinions experienced very bad discomfort. By the way, when some of the actors expressed an opposing opinion, the subjects gave right answers more often.
8. False consensus effect: “If you have a different opinion, you are wrong.”
The description of the experiment: Lee Ross, a professor of Stanford University, suggested the subjects solve a difficult situation. The subjects had to choose between two possible answers. They also needed to imagine what other subjects would answer and give a description of the people who gave the other answer.
The result: the experiment showed that the absolute majority of the subjects thought that the other people gave the same answers as they did and they described the other people in a negative way.
7. The bystander effect and the diffusion of responsibility: “I don’t know anything. Someone else will help.”
The description of the experiment: after the sensational murder of Kitty Genovese where none of the witnesses helped, scientists John Darly and Bibb Latane made a series of experiments testing reaction.
The result: it was proved that in emergencies, people react more quickly if they are alone. However, if there are many other people around, they will hesitate and think that someone else will help. The phenomenon was later researched more, and here is a very illustrative experiment: “The smoke-filled room.” People who were in the room alone and noticed smoke reported the problem much faster than those who were in the room with other people who were acting passively.
6. 8 hours without any devices: “My child is the best. They can’t think about bad things.”
The description of the experiment: a family psychologist Ekaterina Murashova formed a hypothesis that modern children entertain themselves too much and are scared of being alone. She offered children to spend 8 hours without using a phone, a computer, and a TV, but they could still draw pictures, read, sculpt, walk or do other things.
The result: only three out of 68 children from 12 to 18 years old managed to finish the experiment, and 7 could do more than 7 hours. The rest stopped the experiment saying that they were nauseated or that they had pains in the chest or a fever. And three children even thought about suicide! Parents, pay attention to this!
5. Spontaneous facial expressions and subordination: “It’s not my fault. They made me do it!”
The description of the experiment: the original goal of the Carney Landis’s experiment was to identify patterns of how strong emotions are expressed through facial muscles. There were lines drawn on the faces of the subjects to make muscle tracking easier. After that, they had to smell ammonia, look at awful pictures, touch frogs, and at the end, they had to decapitate a rat.
The result: no muscle patterns were identified, but the absolute majority of the subjects were surprisingly willing to do whatever they were asked to do, and most of those things they could never have done in normal life.
4. Ringelmann effect: “I’ll just watch you work.”
The description of the experiment: Maximilien Ringelmann formed a hypothesis that every person contributes less to a common cause if they work with other people. Many different experiments were conducted (e.g. tug-of-war, lifting heavy things) among groups with a different number of people, and only personal results were written down.
The result: each person’s personal achievements are bigger than their contribution. The scientist explained that people lose individual motivation when they work in a group.
3. Social facilitation and inhibition effect: “Just look at me!”
The description of the experiment: psychologist Norman Triplett once noticed that people work much better when they are being watched. During the tests with bike riders, it turned out that the presence of uninterested witnesses decreases people’s efficiency.
Further research was proposed by Robert Zajonc who made a theory of activation. According to it, people show better performance if they need to do something familiar in front of others. And, on the contrary, if people need to find a solution to a new difficult task, they perform much worse.
2. Hawthorne effect: “My boss likes me and appreciates what I do!”
The description of the experiment: in the “Western Electric” company, the efficiency of relay assemblers dropped dramatically. Psychologist Elton Mayo was invited to figure out if there was any connection between how much light there was in the room and the performance. However, during the experiment, it turned out that both the improvement of working conditions and their worsening made a positive effect on the workers.
The conclusion is simple: the workers felt that they were involved in something important. They realized that the management cared about them and started working better. Bosses should use this approach more often.
1. The foot-in-the-door: “Can I have some water? I’m hungry. And I don’t have a place to stay.”
The description of the experiment: psychologists Jonathan Freedman and Scott Frazier made a series of experiments trying to ding out how people will react to big favors when the involvement in the process is increased. Patricia Pliner made further research.
The result: if people make a small favor for you, then the chances are higher that the person will happily do something else. For example, only 46% of people who were asked to donate money to an anti-cancer society agreed to do it, but those who had to wear the badge of the organization agreed twice as often!
Attention! This trick is used by successful sellers, managers, and crooks.
Which of the experiments seem the most valuable to you? Is there some effect you have noticed yourself in your daily life? Maybe you have conducted some experiments of your own or you would like to. Let’s discuss all this in the comments section below.