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6 Social Psychology Experiments You Will Never Forget

Updated on January 17, 2015



What are Social Psychology Experiments?

A social experiment is a research project that employs humans in the real world as the test subject. The participants are subjected to varying or controlled treatment/assessment for the purpose of investigating how changes in policy affect the status quo. Some of the most popularized social experiments deal with the assessment of racism and racial profiling in developed countries. Race-based social experiments are the most common, but their primary focus racial matters limit the scope of the research.

Psychology-based social experiments, on the other hand, tend to be less popular than race-based social experiments, but they address a universal audience (global scope). As such, social psychology experiments are important for individuals to know as a means of addressing personal thinking or perception. Here are six social psychology experiments you need not forget:

Joshua Bell (S.A.E)


Selective Attention Experiment

Selective attention assessment is probably the oldest social psychology research still practiced by modern societies. The study explores how attentive individuals are by placing things and individuals in areas they should be highly noticeable, while factoring in a distraction. In a 2007 assessment, the researcher put Josh Bell a favorite violinist on the busy metro station street in Washington D.C. to play the violin dressed like a regular street performer. Throughout the experiment very few people, stopped to listen to Josh playing. Furthermore, nobody noticed that the violinist was in reality Josh Bell. At the end of the experiment, Josh had raked in very little money and had gone unnoticed by hundreds of passersby.

Piano Stairs


The Train Station Piano Stair Experiment

In an attempt to prove the “the fun theory”, a train station in Stockholm, Sweden, painted its stairs to resemble a piano. The take of the experiment was to evaluate how many people would opt for the stairs instead of the escalator on that day; the stairs were directly adjacent to the escalator. On that day, 66% of all passengers used the stairs compared to only 30% of all passengers who used the stairs on the previous day. As such, the experiment wanted to establish how fun can direct people towards healthier options.

Three for One


The Asch Conformity Experiment

The object of this assessment is to evaluate how people tend to conform to things despite their personal views and opinion. The experiment was first demonstrated in the 1950s, where a group of actors was put in a room and test subjects were introduced one by one. The take of the assessment involved two images one with a single line and the other with three lines labeled one, two and three. Everyone in the room was then supposed to say which line in the set of three was similar to the one that stood alone. The actors were asked to choose the wrong line as a means of distorting the perception of the test subjects. 60% of all test subjects choose the wrong line just because the actors said it was right. Have you ever picked something just because a person you look up to said it was proper or correct? Now you know why you did it.

Personal Choices

Have you ever picked something just because a person you look up to said it was proper or correct?

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Prisoners and Guards


The 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment

This experiment is possibly the most unethical social psychology experiment ever conducted. The research was conducted by Stanford University students who turn a section of the university into a prison and assigned a number of pupils the roles of prisoners and guards. A social psychology experiment meant to evaluate the impact of a prison setting on the human psychology.

The students involved in the research got so much into character that they started acting like they were in a “real” prison. The guards exhibited heightened levels of suspicion towards the prisoners, and the prisoners showed elevated levels of hostility towards the guards. The experiment soon got out of control, and the psychology professor Phillip Zimbardo had to stop the exercise before verbal abuse turned into a full out brawl. The experiment only featured for six days before it was terminated.

Divided Sides


Robbers Cave Experiment

This social psychology experiment seeks to iron out the behavior of individuals when they become separated into rival groups that compete for resources. The analysis studies the behavior of isolated groups of youths that are introduced to each other for the first time; it is coined from the movie “The Lord of the Flies”. The research was conducted at the Robbers Cave State Park found in Oklahoma. The two groups when places in the park, and neither one know about the existence of the other.

After several days, the two sides were brought together; immediately the two groups started throwing verbal insults at each other. The situation was made worse when the groups were made to compete for resources. In the end, the groups were treated with teambuilding exercise that required the corporation of both teams, and slowly by slowly the groups started to like one another. Consequently, the two groups rode out of the park on the same bus. The experiment reveals that most social problems can be solved through corporation.

Television Series

Do you think this social psychology research paved the way for Television Series like “Survivor”?

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Affection Preference


Harlow’s Experiment

Doctor Harry Harlow performed a social psychology experiment which sort to investigate whether or not affection is a vital aspect in childhood development. Harry took several newborn monkeys and introduced them to two surrogate mothers. One surrogate mother was designed with soft material and lacked any feeding point. The second surrogate mother was made with wires but was fitted with milk ducts for feeding. It was found out that the baby monkeys preferred the soft mother as opposed to the wire mother. As such, the newborns adored affection more than sustenance. In conclusion, Harry stated that affection is a vital necessity for proper childhood development. Do you show you kid(s) love and affection? Here is a reason to do so.

Childhood Affection

Do you show you kid(s) love and affection?

See results

Social Psychology Experiment


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    • David Rugu profile image

      David Rugu Ngigi 3 years ago from Kitui, Kenya

      love you support Ariah and Angie as always expect much much more...cause we can only go further

    • profile image

      Ariah 3 years ago

      i haven't laughed this hard in a while

    • profile image

      Angie 3 years ago

      interesting how different people respond to different things..