Smile! You’re In Candid Camera 101 – television program used to illustrate group influence over individual behavior

Smile! You’re In Candid Camera 101 – television program used to illustrate group influence over individual behavior – Brief Article

P.C.

Everyone remembers Candid Camera, the whimsical ’60s and ’70s television show that captured on videotape people’s responses to outright goofy traps: We laughed as a secretary repeatedly knocked the carriage off a typewriter or as a poor soul tried to press a buzzer with his foot while stretching to open a door six feet away. But it serves as more than just entertainment.

James B. Mass, Ph.D., finds valuable psychological lessons in Candid Camera, using episodes of the show to teach his psychology classes at Cornell University. “I look for illustrative examples of human behavior that amplify empirical research findings,” Mass recently told the New York Times, noting that the show’s creator, Allen Funt, “had a marvelous way of doing the same types of situational experiments that professional psychologists do.”

One of Mass’ favorite episodes is “Face the Rear,” in which an unsuspecting person enters an elevator and observes, at the next stop, three Candid Canter, collaborators entering and promptly turning to face the back. Subsequent passengers enter the elevator and despite the odd formation, follow the crowd. Soon, several strangers stand glaring at Funt’s prey. He can’t take it: He, tot), turns to Face the wall.

“The episode shows conformity behavior and group pressures,” says Mass, who has been showing students “Candid Camera” clips since 1968. “It often just takes a simple majority of people doing something to have other people fall in line, even though it doesn’t make sense.” Who said TV wasn’t educational?

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