Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dateline NBC: Social Psychology Edition

The other night, Chris Hansen, of "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" fame, recreated some social psychology experiments to expose how susceptible we are to manipulations such as being "taken in" by confidence scams, and obeying authority even when asked to do things against our morals.  I love that the show starts with Hansen in the American Museum of Natural History, that they put a lot of the findings in an evolutionary context, and that he interviewed Michael Shermer (who rocks!).  The downside: they made it sound like a lot of these behaviors are completely understood, and presented the prevailing hypotheses as fact.  Despite these failings, I still think it's good to get this information out to a broader public who may never take a psychology course and, therefore never otherwise hear about the Milgram experiments.  Hopefully, once you know how easy it is to be manipulated in the name of authority, you will be more likely to listen to that nagging "voice in your head" when it tells you you are being asked to do something that is reprehensible, and thus, you will be less likely to do it.
The video is now online, unfortunately it is broken up into 5 minute bits, but you should be able to click on each new video through the embedded video.

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