Car Crash Experiment
Memories can be deceiving. This is what Loftus and Palmer discovered in their 1974 car crash experiment. The two wanted to see if wording questions a certain way would affect participants’ recall by distorting their memories of an event. The participants watched slides of a car accident and were asked to describe what had happened as if they were eyewitnesses. The experimenters found that the use of different verbs affected the participants’ memories of the accident, showing that memory can be easily distorted.
Have you ever suffered a disappointment and then convinced yourself that you weren’t disappointed at all? If you answered yes, you’ve experienced a psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance. In 1956, psychology student Jack Brehm brought some of his wedding gifts to class (a lamp, a toaster, a transistor radio, etc.) and asked everyone to rate each item’s desirability. The students were then asked to choose between two items they found equally attractive. After making a choice, the students were asked to rate all the items again. Everyone increased the ratings of the items they had chosen and downgraded the ratings of their second-choice items, showing that humans will always try to convince themselves that they’ve made the right decision.
Free Hugs Campaign
We’ve all experienced bad days. Sometimes, a hug is all that we need to feel better. A man who called himself Juan Mann decided to conduct a social experiment of his own to test this theory. He stood in a busy area of Sydney, Australia holding a sign that read “Free Hugs” and set out on a mission to spread joy in his hometown. His “Free Hugs” campaign elicited a tremendous response only to be banned by the police. But in an inspiring twist, over 10,000 people signed a petition to keep the campaign going, sending a hopeful message that humanity can be found even in this age of impersonal media and technology.
Change blindness is the inability to detect subtle changes in objects or scenes that would be perfectly obvious upon closer inspection. This unawareness can even include the recognition of human faces. One experiment revealed that visual distractions can cause change blindness. A man behind a counter handed a consent form to a subject. He then stooped down behind the desk to “retrieve a packet” only to have a different man emerge from behind the desk and give the packet to the subject. The second man in the experiment did not look like the first and was even wearing a different colored shirt. Astonishingly, 75 percent of subjects didn’t even notice the change, revealing how much the human brain misses from one moment to the next.
Candid Camera Elevator Experiment
Candid Camera Elevator ExperimentSmile! You’re on Candid Camera. This clip from the popular show of the 1960s reveals what happens when an innocent bystander falls victim to a collective behavior experiment. The video shows two men’s comical reactions to deviant social behavior in an elevator. Like most people, they conformed to the behavior of the group, even though they had no idea what was happening, revealing that individuals will always try to fit in even if they don’t understand the behavior of the group.