An annotated collection of more than 5000 links to resources and ideas for the teaching of social psychology and related courses organized by topic





Attitudes & Behavior

Attraction & Relationships

Conflict & Peacemaking


Genes, Gender, & Culture

Group Influence





Psychology in the Courtroom

Social Beliefs & Judgments

The Self
































Activities and Exercises



Multimedia Resources (audio, video)

Topic Resources


Class Assignments

Articles, Books, and Book Chapters

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Activities and Exercises

  Several examples of activities

Questions about norms - This sociologist asks some very interesting questions about norms that could prompt some very good discussion in your class.

Mask wearing PANDEMIC

Social rituals

Follow the norm - a good idea from the Teaching of Psych Idea Exchange [added 1/2/14]

Standing in the hallway - This article from the most recent issue of Teaching of Psychology describes a simple activity that enhances students' understanding of conformity. [added 8/12/13]

Authority in the classroom - Joe Wayand passed along this activity he conducts in his classroom: When I cover the Milgram experiment, I show some of the original Obedience film (most libraries have it). [Ed. note: Or you can show the segment on Milgram's studies from the "The power of the situation" episode in the Discovering Psychology series which is freely available online at] I make sure that I will run out of class time before I run out of video. Then I tell students "I know we're almost out of time, but I want you to stay and watch the rest of the video." Then at about 1 minute past, I again say "I know we're running late, but it's important that you watch the rest of the video." The students are very restless at this point, but typically they will stay seated. 3 minutes past... 4 minutes past... Often I have to "let them off the hook" by parroting the language of the experimenter: "It is essential that you remain until the video has ended." "After the video is over, I will rewind the video and we'll continue watching from the beginning." Finally it will dawn on a student that I am tricking them. As that first student gets up to leave, I yell: "Sit down! You must remain and watch the video!" The student usually keeps leaving, and I keep yelling. "I'm Dr. Wayand! I demand that you return to your seat!" At this point, half the students are smiling, and the other half are horrified. Eventually they get the joke, and I continue ordering them to return as they all file out of the classroom. This really gives the students a personal taste of the conformity that's all around us. They understand it's not just "other people" who are subject to conformity. At the start of the next class, we discuss what it felt like, etc. You have to be a little brave to try this stunt, but the students really remember it. [added 3/6/10]

Using 12 Angry Men - Many of you may have used the film 12 Angry Men to illustrate different social psych concepts. Here are some more ideas of how to use the film. [added 6/23/09]

Social norms - paper assignment that could be used as in-class activity or discussion starter

Stanford Prison Experiment - synchronized slide-tape narration (80 slides) created by Philip Zimbardo and Greg White with discussion questions

Multimedia Resources (Audio / Video)


"Why social change is so excruciatingly difficult" (1:19:15) Here is an excellent interview of John Jost in which he clearly describes system justification theory, and uses it to explain why people are so willing to maintain the status quo and forego change even when it benefits them.

Why people back away from successful strategies (36:18) - An interesting podcast from Malcolm Gladwell on why NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain stopped shooting free throws underhand after two seasons even though his free throw percentage was significantly improved with this technique.

Replicating Milgram - Michael Britt creates another interesting Psych Files podcast, this one with some interesting tidbits on the original Milgram experiments and the new replication by Burger. [added 7/3/09]


Wow. The power of authority. (4:57) - an amusing video

Informational or normative influence (or both)? (5:13) - an amusing video

The autokinetic illusion study in a waiting room (3:39) - A Brain Games episode

The Milgram experiment (44:19) - a full film with original footage

Standing ovations (4:26) - a Brain Games episode

Philip Zimbardo looks back on his classic study (31:59) - And he likes the new film on his study!

Trailer for new Stanford Prison experiment film (2:45)

Noba Project video winners - As you may remember, the Noba Project has recently started conducting annual student video award contests for brief clips illustrating psychlogical principles.  This year's theme was Social Influence.  Here are the winners.  You can also read about how your students can enter next year's contest.

"What happens when a guy asks random guys for a date?" (3:55) - Here is a link to "girls asking girls." Not scientific, but interesting discussion starters. [added 3/12/15]

When following the law violates a norm (3:06) - Interesting video of students who decided to drive 55 (speed limit) four cars across on the Interstate. H/T to Dennis Dew. [added 1/2/14]

Student brings typewriter to class (1:43) - another funny norm violation video [added 1/2/14]

Picketing against everything (4:29) - another classic Candid Camera clip -- my personal favorite [added 12/16/13]

What if you predicted the end of the world and no end came? (13:19) - Interesting video of a man who predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011. Cameras were there to record what happened when (spoiler alert) the world did not end. "Fueled by his religious beliefs, Robert Fitzpatrick spent over one hundred thousand dollars of his life savings on subway ads warning that the world would end on May 21st, 2011. 'We Will Forget' follows Robert in the weeks leading up to the 21st, and ultimately to Times Square where he awaits the rapture with fellow believers, onlookers, and naysayers." In this blog entry, Sam Sommers reminds us of a similar prediction and experience documented by Leon Festinger and colleagues many years ago in their book When Prophecy Fails. [added 8/12/13]

What if a male stranger tries to hold your hand? (2:02) - Interesting responses from males and females - an example your students could use, carefully, to violate a social norm [added 9/10/12]

Third date = sex? (1:44) - A clip from the show The Big Bang Theory raises the question of whether "the idea that the third date is the 'sex date,' the date when it is deemed appropriate for a new couple to have sex" is a social norm or just a myth. [added 1/21/12]

"American Juggalo" (23:21) - You can view the full 23-minute documentary on the interesting subculture of Juggaloes and Juggalettes that have developed around the band Insane Clown Posse and a four-day annual event called the Gathering. Field trip! [added 1/20/12]

Followup on the Juggalos - Apparently, not everyone is such a big fan of the Insane Clown Posse -- the FBI is watching the Juggalos for gang activity. See the September issue for a documentary on the Juggalos and Juggalettes. [added 1/21/12]

Normative and informational influence (2:31) - classic Candid Camera elevator video [added 10/9/10]

Replicating Milgram (5:07) - Nope, not that Milgram study. What if several people are staring up at a building -- what will bystanders do? [added 7/3/09]

A song about the Milgram obedience studies (2:39) - This is a link to a video performance by Dar Williams of her song Buzzer which is about the Milgram studies. Here are the lyrics. Here is an NPR interview Williams did about her music including discussion of this song (which begins about 3 minutes, 20 seconds into the show). [3/26/09]

Frozen in place (2:23) - An improv group had 200 people freeze in place for five minutes in Grand Central Station. Fun stuff. [added 4/28/08]

Food court musical (3:45) - More work from the same improv group. For both of these improv videos, you and your students can discuss possible reactions, acceptable and unacceptable. If you do anything with these videos in your class I would love to hear how you used them. [added 4/28/08]

Breaking social norms (3:40) - an interesting, brief video of someone asking for free hugs [added 4/15/08]

"The Lottery" - Apparently, this is (was) a very popular film in high school English classes. I had never seen it before. Based on a Shirley Jackson short story, this 18-minute film is a very spooky look at norms, and tradition, and conformity. Warning (and spoiler alert): Very disturbing ending. [added 7/14/07]

Breaking a social norm (4:40) - Do you ever have your students break a social norm? Apparently, that was the assignment for this class. Here is the students' video capturing their efforts. [added 7/14/07]

Class Assignments


Using Principles of Social Influence to Create Prosocial Change - This project also won honorable mention for the 2013 Social Psychology Network Action Teaching Award. "In this action teaching assignment, students begin by learning about six key principles of social influence from Robert Cialdini's book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion: (1) commitment and consistency, (2) social proof, (3) liking, (4) reciprocation, (5) authority, and (6) scarcity. The class then selects a social problem of concern and develops a "social change project" that applies social influence principles to creatively and effectively address the problem. In one case, for example, students raised over $2,000 for a United Nations anti-malaria program and generated 200 postcards sent to the White House urging the government to stand by its pledge to end malaria by 2015. In another case, students invited a survivor of human trafficking to speak on campus -- an event that drew over 300 students, faculty, staff, and community members and helped raise $540 for anti-trafficking organizations. Other social change projects included raising more than $1,000 to buy prosthetic limbs for landmine victims, soliciting nearly $2,000 for Pakistan flood relief, netting over $1,300 for Japanese tsunami relief, and, closer to home, securing free meals for local senior citizens. These projects served to show students how social influence techniques can be used as prosocial influence techniques." [added 8/12/13]

Fact or fiction? - A list of 20 "hints" for resisting unwanted influences from Philip Zimbardo -- you could ask students to pick one hint from the list and evaluate its validity in terms of current research, or have them design a test of it. (Also, find more excerpts here from Zimbardo's book The Lucifer Effect.) [added 12/12/07]

Experiential projects - from Phil Zimbardo's Psychology of Mind Control course - students experience social psych first-hand by being a "Deviant for a Day," or "an Agent or Target of Social Influence," or by engaging in "self-directed change"

Paper Assignments

Breaking a social norm (video) - Do you ever have your students break a social norm? Apparently, that was the assignment for this class. Here is the students' video capturing their efforts. [added 7/14/07]

Social Norm Assignment - students identify and answer questions about social norms - from Michael Schmitt

Day of ...... - Scott Plous' Day of Compassion assignment has been posted on the Resources website for quite a while. Now I have the pleasure of pointing you to three other similar, creative assignments Scott engages his Social Psychology students in: Day of Nonconformity, Day of Nonviolence, and Day of Social Justice. [added 6/9/04]

Social influence application paper


The power of the situation - Billy Bush on that bus with Donald Trump

Reactance - Turkey recently banned the use of Twitter in its country. Twitter use soared. Here is a blog entry describing some of the possible political motivation for the ban. [added 3/12/15]

Reactance and Absoluteness
When talking of absoluteness, I think of a boxing strategy. I'm sure it translates into other sports as well, but that will be my model. No matter how bad you are hurt, you are supposed to not show it to discourage your opponent. If he should see a weakness forming in you, he thinks he might be able to hang on just long enough to outlast you. This may motivate him to try even harder. If he believes you are not even hurt, he will realize the shape he is in, feel weak and powerless, and not see the point of trying to continue. When it is a sure thing (or perceived sure thing) he is more likely to give up, but if there is a chance that he may win, he will continue or fight even harder to just put himself over the edge in the fight.
[added 12/17/12]

Behavioral Contagion

Mass delusions - A few more cases of mass hysteria -

 Emotional contagion - interesting story about "witch hunts" on the internet

         Behavioral contagion - False reports of shots fired at JFK airport

Mass delusions - Apparently, the sightings of a venomous spider in Austria led to hundreds of people thinking they had been bitten, when most had not. [added 12/22/06]

The Kokomo Hum - interesting example of social (behavioral) contagion [added 3/30/04]

Formal Social Control

Formal social control - Good blog describing how San Francisco's banning of the sale of toys with unhealthy food is an example of what sociologists call formal social control. [4/9/11]


"Authority" prank caller - Prank caller convinces employees at a fast-food restaurant that he is a fire official, and he convinces them to smash out the windows of the restaurant.  It happened at more than one restaurant.

"Prank call led school to treat two with shock" - Remember the incidents in which a prank caller claiming he was with the police convinced managers and employees at fast food restaurants to engage in despicable acts? If not, check the CROW website. Well, here is another remarkable case of obeying an anonymous authority. [added 4/4/08]

"Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown" - "On November 18, 1978, 913 men, women, and children --followers of cult leader Jim Jones -- died during a mass suicide and murder in Jonestown, Guyana. In the months preceding the tragedy, Jim Jones and his People’s Temple followers recorded their thoughts, their problems and their aspirations. The hundreds of hours of audiotape form the basis of the NPR documentary Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown." (From You can hear the entire 90-minute audiotape at NPR Online. Contributed by Jim Bell. [added 4/28/02]

Movie: "The Wave" - This movie recreates a true story of an American high school teacher who, in 1968, attempted to illustrate how what happened in Nazi Germany could happen anywhere by creating a youth organization among his students called the Third Wave. Contributed by Jim Bell. [added 4/28/02]

Seinfeld Episode: Aspects of obedience are illustrated quite well in the Soup Nazi story. Contributed by Steve Fein. [added 4/28/02]

A couple weeks ago I chaperoned a trip to Bloomington for the ISU high school marching band competition. My son's last words as we got to the high school were, "Dad, please don't embarrass me by yelling at everyone on the bus." Much to his delight I was assigned to another bus. I'm sure that each of these band members individually are fine young persons. But nowhere has deindividuation been more obvious than on that bus. Screaming, yelling, climbing over seats, and general mayhem seemed to be the order of the day. Keeping in mind what my son had said, I tried a little informational influence to get them to conform to the rules. I tried to explain how they might get hurt climbing over the seats, and how they needed to rest and conserve energy to be at their best for the competition. That didn't work very good. I didn't think normative influence would work because the group norm seemed to be acting wild and crazy. I concluded that authority influence was the only way. Several loud "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP" 's did the trick.

I had been out of the office last week. The State of Ohio called our office regarding our company's change. He told one of the clerks that we had to apply for a new state identification number. She advised him that we didn't because the only thing that changed was the name of the company, not the owners, not the business, etc. He was very emphatic about it. After twenty minutes of going back and forth, he advised he'd call back next week to talk to the manager. When he called this week I said, "Yes, the only thing that changed was the company's name." He said, "Okay, think you. That's what I needed to know." It was as though the title of Payroll Manager gave me the credibility the clerk did not have. Therefore, he was reluctant to disagree with me although I told him much less than the clerk did.


Peer pressure and incentives - a story from London in which local groups and some companies are using various measures to encourage citizens and employees to reduce their carbon footprints [added 11/29/07]

Cults - "Scientologists descend on Minneapolis collapse site." [added 9/23/07]

Informational Influence

Informational influence can be a key part of playing golf. For example, when I play with three other players, we re all pretty equal. The other day, we had an away tournament at a golf course that I never played before. We walked up to a long par-3. I looked at the yardage and pulled out a four iron. When I looked up, the three other players all had three-woods in their hands. Immediately, I began to doubt my judgment. I thought that since all three players had the same club, they must be right. I figured that they knew something that I didn't. I was scrambling trying to figure out what they knew that I didn't. Because that was my first time playing that hole, I hit what the others did. Since it was three against one, I agreed with their choice because I thought I was wrong.

Normative Influence

Keeping up with neighbors - I just like this picture. [added 1/15/12]

The illusion of choice - an example from Hitler [added 12/5/10]

Balancing conformity and individuality - an amusing article from The Onion [added 4/16/08]

Asch applied to politics - an article from that attempts to apply Asch's classic line studies to the democratic presidential primaries and Kerry's success [added 4/5/04]

Getting dressed for work today, I thought how nice it would be to be a cashier in a store so that I had a smock to wear at work over my clothes. I could dress as comfortably as I wanted. It'd even be nice to be a clerk in my office and wear comfortable shoes and slacks. But no... I put on heels and a suit or dress every day. I am uncomfortable. I don't do it because I feel better in them. I do it because of the normative influence of my peers. As part of the Finance group (all the men wear suits and ties), I want to be accepted. I am a salaried department head. In truth I feel I'm at the bottom of this group. Therefore to be accepted to their group I dress a certain way. A further example of this is the hours I work. Before my promotion, I worked 7:30-4:00. Now I am there by 8:30 a.m. and stay till 5:00. The reason is that the rest of the group stays that late, if not later. Further, my boss once remarked that the "professional staff usually works till 5:00." Again to be part of that group and to be accepted, I stay that late every day. I suppose I also accept the fact that it is correct to stay till 5:00 because everyone does (informational social influence).


Using social norms - Hey, who put those pink flamingos on my lawn? "The flamingos were placed there by someone other than the home's resident to get the homeowner to donate money. In order to have the flamingos removed, the recipient needed to make a donation. The recipient is also encouraged to "flock" a friend's lawn in order to get them to contribute as well." [added 7/5/09]

Norms in language - Marianne Miserandino pointed me to this cool map of the common names for soft drinks used in different parts of the U.S. I grew up in the South where we called soft drinks "cokes." So, if you went into a restaurant and asked for a coke, the waitperson would often ask "What kind?" Then you might say "Sprite." [added 9/20/08]

Jantelagen - Eric Hansen, from Sweden, passed along this example: "The Swedes have a phenomenon (or in this case sort of a norm) they call Jantelagen (pronounced Yanta lagen). I think it comes originally from Denmark. I myself am a US citizen who moved to Sweden in 1997, so I do not have Swedish culture as my own, which is probably both an advantage and a disadvantage. I probably notice things my colleagues don't, but don't have the background to understand them as fully they would once I recognize them. Anyway, this Jantelagen, which I believe means Jante's law can be interpreted as a strong norm against extolling one's virtues and achievements.

One of my students once sent me the following "satirical" 10 commandments related to Jantelagen: taken from a source I could probably find. I believe it is a book called En flykting kryssar sitt spor (1933) by Aksel Sandmose.

Below is a direct translation of what they mean, in some cases with my interpretation in parentheses.

Jantelagen (10 satiriska budord) - Jantelagen 10 satirical commandments

1. Du skall icke tro att du �r n�got. -- You (thou) shall not believe that you are something. (You should not believe you are something special)

2. Du skall icke tro, att du �r lika god som vi. -- You shall not believe that you're as good as we are.

3. Du shall icke tro, att du �r klokare �n vi. -- You shall not believe you are wiser than we are.

4. Du skall icke tro, att du �r b�ttre �n vi. -- You shall not believe that you're better than we are.

5. Du skall icke tro, att du vet mer �n vi. -- You shall not believe that you know more than we do.

6. Du skall icke tro, att du �r f�rmer �n vi. -- You shall not believe that you are superior to us.

7. Du skall icke tro, att du duger n�got till. -- You shall not believe that you're good enough for anything.

8. Du skall icke skratta �t oss. -- You shall not laugh at us.

9. Du skall icke tro, att n�gon bryr sig om dig. -- You shall not think anyone cares about you. (an interesting aside, there was recently a giant hit song with the chorus nobody cares where you bought your sweater, I know it doesn't translate so well, but the point they were trying to make in the song was that you're not as important as you think).

10. Du skall icke tro, att du kan l�ra oss n�got. -- You shall not believe you can teach us anything.

Based on this "law" I am currently running a study in collaboration with a colleague in the States which makes a cross-cultural comparison of the self-serving bias. The idea is that Swedes are less likely to extol their virtues than Americans, unless permitted to do so anonymously. I view it as a type of false modesty, meaning I think Swedes privately think they are better than other people, but are loathe to talk about it publicly. I have some preliminary data that show significant differences in estimates of oneself compared to estimates of the "average other" in Swedes when ratings are made anonymously. In a follow up (being run now) I am investigating what happens when ratings are made publicly." [added 7/5/06]

Several years ago I was very uncomfortable working for my boss. He was old enough to be my father; he was well-mannered and polite and generally a very nice man. However, when he would stand and speak to me, he would move so that his nose was almost touching mine. At first I thought he was hard of hearing and needed to stand close so he could understand me. But I quickly found that wasn't the case. I worked for him for two years thinking he was just weird in that regard. After reading our textbook, it finely hit me (11 years later) that he had picked up customs and habits from South America, which is where he had lived just prior to my working with him. Now I understand that he wasn't just a dirty old man but had been following the socially acceptable behavior standards from his former home.


You often hear a quote like "outside of work my boss/peer/subordinate is a lot of fun." Why are statements like that made? Because in many cases we (all) are a different person. For a boss their is no pressure to get the job done. For a peer there is no need to claw (competition is over). For a subordinate there is no reason to dislike her job/boss/rules, etc. The situation indeed is very powerful and many times dictates our behavior -- what people expect from us.

Topic Resources


Digital tip jar -- When you check out at the register in stores and restaurants now, the request for a tip has become almost ubiquitous. How does it make you feel? Are you more likely to tip? Less likely? I see this all over in the U.S. Is this common in other countries? Let me know.

"How the classics changed research ethics"

"Brain activity differentiates between types of social influence"

"Politicized pandemic shaped compliance with social distancing"

Will you follow the new social rules about what to do in public? - This is a fascinating topic for social psychology.  When laws don't require it, or even if they do, when will we follow rules or guidelines about wearing a mask and other behaviors, and what factors will most likely influence our decisions?  Why do we see more rule following in some countries than others?  What might lead a behavior to become a new norm? PANDEMIC

"How to use psychology to convince people to take social distancing seriously" - PANDEMIC

“An opt-out donor organ system might actually lead to fewer transplants”

Bad behavior by others leads us to want to restore social order - by buying more popular brands of food!

How movements can get started - Interesting analysis of how the #metoo phenomenon could evolve into a long-term movement instead of just being a momentary focus

"The psychology of taking a knee" - interesting discussion around the recent protests in sports

Are you "green to be seen" or "brown to get down"? - Interesting study looks at how we signal valued group membership through the behaviors we choose.  For example, if you are an environmentalist you will seek out visible behaviors that signal that membership (green to be seen), whereas if you don't see yourself as an environmentalist you will avoid visible pro-environment behaviors (brown to get down).

Joining a crowd and your health - This research describes both positive and negative effects on health from joining a crowd of others.  Here is a blog entry from David Myers that may be relevant.  Some new research suggests some health benefits from religious engagement.

The brain and conformity - Fascinating article in the APS Observer about new research looking at how our brain primes us for conformity.

Responses to littering in New York and Bern - Some simple, interesting studies your students could replicate.

What are the most and least acceptable white lies? - A survey conducted by Directv asked individuals to rate how severe certain white lies are.  I'm telling you the truth.  Go look for yourself.

Shared bad experiences increase group cohesion - including bad bosses [added 3/12/15]

Income inequality promotes status seeking - Although this remarkable finding is coming from respected columnist Wray Herbert, I still want to see the research article before I can believe it. Researchers tested the hypothesis that greater income inequality leads to more status seeking which leads to more desiring/purchasing of high status goods. They found that Google searches in states in the U.S. with greater income inequality targeted luxury and high-status goods 70% of the time. What % of searches for such high-status goods were conducted in more income equal states? ZERO PERCENT! WHAT?!? I know, it seems impossible for it to be ZERO. I look forward to the article in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science. I couldn't find a draft of the article online anywhere yet. If you find one please send me the link. ZERO?? [added 3/12/15]

Getting people to agree to commit bad deeds - "Vanessa Bohns and her colleagues first asked 52 student participants (31 women) to estimate how many people they'd have to approach on campus in order to get three people to tell a white lie. The lie was to sign a form saying the participant had given them a verbal introduction to a new university course, when really he/she had done no such thing. After making the estimate, the participants went out on campus to test their persuasiveness. On average, the participants thought they'd have to ask 8.47 people before 3 agreed; in reality they needed on average to ask just 4.39. In all, 91 per cent of the participants overestimated how many people they'd need to approach." [added 1/2/14]

Complying with government policies (e.g., taxation) - Interesting research suggesting that a combination of high power and high trust promotes the most compliance from citizens [added 1/2/14]

How psych researching is changing lives - The most recent issue of the APS Observer has a nice article about how psychological research findings are being used to improve people's lives. [added 1/2/14]

"Online, an initial positive rating is surprisingly influential" - "Lev Muchnik and his colleagues tested this possibility experimentally. Collaborating with a news-sharing website they randomly assigned either a positive or negative first-rating, or no rating (control condition), to 101,281 real comments posted over 5 months. This simple manipulation had a significant effect on the way other site users subsequently rated the comments." [added 1/2/14]

"Monkeys are adept at picking up social cues" - This is an awesome study! You must read it. No, this is not a "social cues" joke. It's just that good. I love it! [added 8/12/13]

Changing the handicapped symbol - Sam Sommers describes the interesting move to update the blue handicapped symbol of someone in a wheelchair to a more active, forward-moving version. Take a look; will it change attitudes or behaviors? [added 8/12/13]

The licensing effect - If you have just exercised do you give yourself the license to eat something fattening? In other words, might your good intentions backfire in some instances? This blog entry describes a fascinating study: "Participants were told that they would be evaluating a new brand of scissors. Part of the evaluation process required them to rate how good the scissors were at cutting out shapes (such as triangles and squares) from a stack of approximately 200 sheets of plain, white paper. Half the participants tested the scissors in a room where there weren’t any recycling facilities, only a trash can. The other half completed the task in a room where recycling facilities were available in addition to a regular trash can. The participants were purposely not given any specific instructions about the sizes of the shapes or the amount of paper that they should use in the task. Instead they were simply told to dispose of any scraps in the receptacle(s) provided and then complete a ‘green attitude’ questionnaire that asked them about their beliefs and attitudes towards the environment. The results were quite simply staggering. Participants who evaluated the pair of scissors when recycling facilities were available used nearly three times more paper than the group who didn’t have recycling facilities. Interestingly this increase in the use of resources occurred regardless of how positive the participants’ ‘green attitudes’ were as measured in the post study questionnaire." [added 8/12/13]

"The gay marriage snowball and political change" - agood essay on how a culture can change rapidly on an important social issue [added 8/12/13]

"When good people behave badly" - Good blog entry from Sam Sommers in which he is probably going to tell you that Situations Matter, or some hooey like that [added on 7/4/12]

"The significance of social structure" - a good essay on the role structure plays in our lives [added 10/16/10]

The power of small increments - good blog entry from Sam Sommers on how we often overlook the power of incremental change in behaviors that gradually increase over time such as the errors in politicians' resumes [added 10/16/10]

Fewer calories consumed after calorie information posted in restaurants - [added 2/8/10]

Hubris Syndrome - Interesting article in which the authors "argue that many of our elected leaders have shown signs of 'Hubris Syndrome' - a form of acquired personality disorder....The key concept, they write, is that hubris syndrome is a disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years and with minimal constraint on the leader." Is this really a personality type or the power of the situation? [added 7/17/09]

"Individual differences in susceptibility to mindlessness" - If someone tried to jump in line at the copier within an inane excuse would you still give in? What if you were high in need for cognition? High in self-monitoring? [added 4/18/09]

Peer pressure in music preference - Here's an interesting article in which "sociologist Matthew Salganik and his colleagues at Columbia University set out to test the theory that music listeners simply like the music they know other people enjoy." [added 7/6/06]

Cyberball! - Kipling Williams offers downloads of Cyberball, "a virtual ball-toss game that can be used for research on ostracism, social exclusion, or rejection." Could also be used for lab activities. [added 1/8/06]

"Do defaults save lives?" - very interesting article analyzing opt-in and opt-out strategies in Europe to promote organ donation -- a good, short read for students [added 6/15/04]

"Coffin Nails: The Tobacco Controvery in the 19th Century" - This site draws on text, cartoons and ads from Harper's Weekly, 1857-1912, to describe the health concerns already present about tobacco and responses to it. [added 7/16/03]

Nudges and Nudging

Can nudges work?

“Nudging the city and residents of Cape Town to save water”

Tragedy of the Commons, use of norms, fear appeals, and more - David Myers shares this example from Cape Town’s severe water shortage and its efforts to encourage citizens to conserve.

When and where do nudges work? - A "nudge" is an intervention "that preserves freedom of choice, but steers people in a particular direction."

Mimicry and Contagion

"How does risky behavior spread?" - "So how does risk-taking spread through an organization? The extreme uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 provided a unique environment for studying that question. With the onset of the pandemic, people around the world simultaneously questioned which behaviors were appropriate in order to reduce both individual and societal risk of exposure to the virus. That allowed us to test how canonical theories of learning work in tandem to spread risk-taking."

"When and why does rudeness sometimes spread round the office?" - "When our ability to regulate our thoughts and behaviors is running thin"

"Investigating social contagion with digital tools" - Recent study finds that the memory of one individual can indirectly influence that of another via shared social connections."

Extraverts mimic more than introverts - But no difference was found for agreeableness.

"Ebola fears turn into an epidemic of racism and hysteria" - [added 3/12/15]

The contagion of others' attitudes - Sam Sommers identifies a number of situations where the presence of others shapes our preferences and views. [added on 7/4/12]

"Money makes mimicry backfire" - "It's one of the first rules of persuasion: mimic subtly your conversation partner's movements and body language (with a slight delay), and they'll perceive you to be more attractive and trustworthy. Being mimicked, so long as it's not too blatant, apparently leaves us in a better mood and more likely to be helpful to others." However, "reminders of money reverse the benefits of mimicry - leading mimics to be liked less, and the mimicked to feel threatened. It all has to do with the selfish, egocentric mindset triggered by money. And in that context, the researchers say, being mimicked is uncomfortable because it gives people the sense that 'their autonomy is being threatened.'" [added 1/29/12]

Mass hysteria and chemical leaks - "Mass hysteria and not leaked chemicals was the likely cause of the symptoms experienced by those exposed in 16 per cent of hundreds of chemical leaks recorded in England and Wales between January 2007 and April 2008." [added 10/16/10]

Coordinated behavior among humans and other animals - interesting blog entry describing why animals evolved the ability to coordinate novel behaviors, such as the fascinating video included of a flock of starlings avoiding a predator [added 3/8/10]

"Contagion and differentiation in unethical behavior" - "We're influenced by our chances of getting caught, by how much attention we're paying to the ethical issues involved, and whether or not people like us are doing it. And we reserve special disdain for our rivals, taking care not to behave in the unethical ways they do." [added 1/19/10]

The power of mimicry - [added 4/18/09]

Conversational partners coordinate eye movements" - interesting study looking at how even separated conversants coordinate eye gaze [added 10/19/07]

The chameleon effect in 3-D virtual reality - Very interesting study in which subjects wearing a virtual reality headset viewed a character who was programmed to mimic the subjects' movements. What did they find? You can also read the research article. [added 9/22/05]

Norms and Normative Influence

Asch's line study

Is textbook presentation of Asch's line study biased? - Is it a study of conformity or independence? [added 4/9/15]

Asch's line study - a description of the classic 1951 study, including a video reenactment of it from the 1970s [added 3/12/15]

Asch's line study without confederates - This blog entry describes a clever way to recreate Asch's study without the need for confederates. [added 12/22/10]

How can we get people to clean up after their dogs?

The self-persuading norm - "Would people be more influenced by social norms if they are given the opportunity to provide their own argument supporting other people's behaviors?"

It's gotten awkward to wear a mask - It's interesting to watch as a majority behavior becomes a minority one. What have your students noticed? Can they think of other such examples? PANDEMIC

“China’s behavioral monitoring system bars some from travel, purchasing property” - “The government says it is trying to ‘purify’ society by rewarding people who are trustworthy and punishing those who are not, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.”

Using “dynamic” norms - “These findings suggest that introducing dynamic norms  — information about how behavior is changing — can cause people to “preconform” with environmentally friendly behaviors that contradict the status quo before they become mainstream.

When not letting others down can be used for good - like getting yourself to the gym

Why do we call people stupid? - This interesting essay suggests that one reason may be to enforce norms.  "You're stupid" means you are acting outside acceptable behavior, and I am signalling that you should return to the fold.

Pedestrian eye contact with drivers increases compliance with crosswalk rules - Here's looking at you, kid.

Breaking social norms -- party crashers!

Using prisons for ostracism

Social influence and teen sex - Ben Le describes a number of the social influence factors associated with teen sexual behavior. [added 3/12/15]

Arm-folding in the World Cup - I enjoyed this part of the recent World Cup. I'm glad someone else did too. [added 3/12/15]

Females get extra credit for not shaving their armpits - [added 3/12/15]

The Center for the Analysis of Social Exclusion - This new Center site provides a variety of publications from the Center's research programs. [added 1/2/14]

Putting a face to it... - Research finds that imbuing messages with human features increases compliance towards social causes. A humanized light bulb promotes more conservation than a regular light bulb. [added 8/12/13]

"Why cyclists enrage car drivers" - because they violate the accepted norms of the road [added 8/12/13]

Reduce bad behavior: Sanctions or disapproval? - Interesting study found that disapproval had a longer lasting effect than fines, particularly when the consequence was removed. [added 8/12/13]

The unwritten rules of Facebook - See if your students would agree with what this study found. [added 8/12/13]

"Feeling socially excluded? Try touching a teddy bear." - Nothing more needs to be said. [added 1/29/12]

Social acceptance and rejection - A ScienceDaily article about a good Current Directions in Psychological Science article reviewing research on acceptance and rejection [added 1/29/12]

"New environments and new norms" - This blog entry can get students to think about new physical environments they encounter, and how they navigate the norms and expected behaviors of them. [added 6/12/11]

When is peer rejection acceptable in children? [added 12/22/10]

Changing social norms - Excellent article using the change in foot-binding custom in China to discuss how norms can be changed within a society -- this article would combine well with the one below on reducing Islamophobia to discuss how social change can occur. [added 12/22/10]

"Driving, social norms, and social structure" - good blog entry which uses the norms of driving as an analogy for the norms and structure of society [added 12/22/10]

Cell phone etiquette - This list of 15 rules provides a nice example for a discussion of how norms are formed, transmitted, changed, etc. [added 7/14/10]

Interesting take on deviance - If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it... Or, if someone violates a social norm but no one objects, is it deviance? [added 7/14/10]

"Rethinking nudity and deviance" - [added 7/14/10]

"Public behavior in private spaces" - For example, how do mall rules affect behavior? [added 3/8/10]

How much do our social networks shape our behavior? - More contagion research -- Interesting New York Times article reviewing research on the contagious nature of behavior within social networks [added 1/19/10]

Hug is the new handshake - Interesting New York Times article describes an apparent trend in which teenagers regular hug each other as greetings, including between males. [added 7/17/09]

A cartoon - [added 4/18/09]

Rumspringa - What? Yeah, I had never heard of this Amish tradition during which teenagers "get to experience non-Amish life so they can decide whether they want to commit to their parents' culture and traditions.... during the time of Rumspringa, the youth are free to wear modern clothes, use technology, and may experiment with drink, drugs and sex - on the basis that the Amish want their youth to freely enter their tradition having had the opportunity to experience the alternative." You are encouraged to be a non-conformist so you can see if you want to conform or not, and make a commitment to that conformity.
[added 4/18/09]

Do people conform more to social norms in a more orderly/neat setting? - [added 4/18/09]

The use of advertising in China - "A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research looks at the role advertising has played in China's transformation. Authors Xin Zhao (University of Hawaii at Manoa) and Russell W. Belk (York University, Toronto) analyzed advertisements in the Chinese media for clues on how sociological and ideological change has taken place in the People's Republic. Advertising is the major propaganda vehicle for consumerism, and an excellent arena to explore China's changing values, explain the authors: 'We examine how advertising appropriates a dominant anti-consumerist political ideology to promote consumption within China's social and political transition.'" [added 11/21/08]

Using social control to "curb incivilities" - Which makes you more angry: Seeing someone failing to pick up his dog's poop, or seeing someone littering? This blog entry describes some research on efforts to reduce such incivilities. [added 8/10/08]

Teenagers: Conforming to nonconformity - amusing article from The Onion [added 6/7/08]

Can threat of embarrassment change unwanted behavior? - This question is explored in this sociology blog on "informal social sanctions, prostitution, and" [added 5/10/08]

The Hippie society - Okay, raise your mouse, how many of you were once hippies? Are still hippies? This site provides a lot of info about hippie life back in the mid to late 60s. It describes "hippie life" in Canada and the U.S. Which makes me wonder -- were there "hippies" in other countries? Was there a hippie movement in Madagascar? Nepal? Texas? [added 11/18/07]

Fads across the decades - Fun site that describes the most popular U.S. fads from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, ... up to the 90s. Good discussion starters or source for comparison or analysis. Or, just relive your past. [added 11/20/03]


The 5 most boring jobs, hobbies - Ahh, roles. Do boring people take these jobs, or do the jobs make these people (seem) boring?

"How politics changes politicians" - David Myers' interesting take on some of our current political behavior

Is it the person or the job? - "Bankers become dishonest when reminded of their professional identity." The researchers did not find that for some other professions. [added 3/12/15]

Is it the role or the person? - Interesting study looks at the interesting question of whether people in a certain situation act that way because of the context or chose that context because of who they are. In this case, the military is the context. Does the military change your personality? Do certain personalities choose the military? [added on 7/4/12]

Zimbardo's Prison Study

Was the Stanford Prison Experiment a “fraud”? - This article and a second one have attacked Zimbardo's study.

Zimbardo and colleagues responded to the attacks here.

A new film on the Stanford Prison Study - [added 3/12/15]

"New BBC prison study website goes live" - "The British social psychologists, professors Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher, have put together a wonderful, resource-packed website that documents the science and issues behind their BBC Prison Study conducted and broadcast in 2001/2002." [added 4/18/09]

Effect of prison on prison guards - good summary of book (Newjack) by journalist Ted Conover about his undercover experience as a guard in a prison [added 3/23/04]

A British variation of the Stanford prison experiment - an attempt to create a prison simulation for a television show [added 7/21/03]


Dr. Birx: Did she conform to an authority figure?

How do you get teenagers to eat less junk food? - Frame it as an act of rebellion!  This study did so quite cleverly with positive effects.

"The flawed psychology of government mass surveillance" - [added 12/16/13]

"Staring eyes 'deter' Newcastle University bike thieves" - Lots of possible research variations with this idea -- very cool. [added 8/12/13]

Milgram's Obedience Studies

The Milgram experiment - A good description with an activity from Joe Wayand on the CROW site

Did Milgram participants realize the experiments were not really dangerous? - Researchers reviewed the post-study interviews given by the participants and discovered some interesting explanations given by the participants.

New Milgram replication: 90% of Polish participants willing to deliver highest shock

"Milgram's obedience study: A contentious classic reinterpreted" - This article describes the contrast between how Milgram's study is often presented in textbooks versus what recent reinterpretations are saying.

A special issue on Milgram's obedience studies - A special issue of the journal Theory & Psychology contains several articles on Milgram's research, films about it, and more.

The obedience studies at 50 - essay about the 50-year legacy of these famous studies by Milgram [added 1/29/12]

Revisiting Milgram's obedience study - Jerry Berger, who conducted the replication of Milgram's famous obedience study, is now suggesting that perhaps many of the participants in Milgram's and his own study were less motivated by obedience to authority and more motivated by a desire for "acting out of character in certain circumstances." Read about the evidence he has uncovered. [added 6/12/11]

Milgram obedience studies turned into "game show" - You may have heard about this. A documentary of sorts for French television created a mock game show, The Game of Death, "with a roaring crowd and a glamorous and well-known hostess urging the players on. But the contestants did not know they were taking part in an experiment to find out whether television could push them to outrageous lengths, and which has prompted comparisons with the atrocities of Nazi Germany....The game? Posing questions to another ''player'' and punishing him with up to 460 volts of electricity when he gets them wrong - even until his cries of ''Let me go!'' fall silent and he appears to have died. Not knowing that the screaming victim is really an actor, the apparently reluctant contestants yield to the orders of the presenter and chants of ''Punishment!'' from a studio audience who also believed the game was real." Apparently, 81% of the contestants went all the way to 460 volts, more than the 60%+ in Milgram's studies. Here is a second story about the show which includes a little video. [added 7/14/10]

Resisting Milgram's "experiment" - interesting first person account of someone who did not go all the way as one of the first subjects in Milgram's obedience study [added 6/7/08]

Re-creation of Milgram's obedience studies - I imagine many of you watched ABC's Dateline show in which they re-created Milgram's classic study. I thought Dateline did a good job of capturing and explaining it. At the first link above, you can view a 5:50 clip that replays parts of the show. Very useful for class. One of the most disturbing pieces within the program was when it provided a real-life episode of employees at a fast-food restaurant following the commands of a stranger on the phone pretending to be a police officer. Very disturbing what followed. As it turns out, the individual allegedly responsible for that phone call and what followed apparently had done this more than 60 times across the country. [added 7/06/07]

Ethical concerns of the re-creation - Jerry Burger, who conducted the re-creation of Milgram's studies, describes the steps he went through to insure an ethical yet faithful replication. [added 12/23/07]

The Holocaust

The Holocaust - lots of resources and links related to the Holocaust [added 11/7/02]

"Voices of the Holocaust" - a new project from The British Library that includes audio and written recordings from survivors who live in Great Britain [added 3/6/02]

Holocaust teaching guide - hundreds of images, videos and other resources


The Cult News Network - This website provides links to current news stories about a variety of cults. [added 10/19/07]

Heaven's Gate

Cult Controversies - resources from the Washington Post describing various controversial cults since the 1950s [added 12/1/06] - F.A.C.T.Net (Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network) "focuses on protecting freedom of mind from harms caused by all forms of mind control and unethical influence" - lots of information and resources on cults, scientology and attempts at mind control [added 12/06/02]

Cult group controversies - extensive resources on "brainwashing" and other aspects of cults - from the Religious Movements Page [added 3/6/02]


"A social psychological critique of "brainwashing" claims about recruitment to new religions" - article by James T. Richardson - from J. Hadden and D. Bromley, eds. (1993), The Handbook of Cults and Sects in America. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, Inc., pp. 75-97. [added 3/6/02]


The Jonestown Massacre

Jonestown Massacre resources [added 6/3/09]

Multiple resources on the massacre - This site from NPR provides audio of stories about the event, an interview with a survivor, images of the massacre, review of the events and more. [added 3/19/04]

Multiple resources on the massacre from the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University - The Department has created a website entitled, “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple," which provides a 25th anniversary review, personal reflections, tape transcripts and more. [added 3/19/04]

Articles, Books, and Book Chapters (available online)

Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority: An experimental view. New York: Harper & Row.

Book Chapters

Fiske, A. & Tetlock, P.E. (1999). Taboo trade-offs: Constitutive prerequisites for social life. In S.A. Renshon and J. Duckitt (eds), Political Psychology: Cultural and Cross-cultural Perspectives. London: MacMillan.

Lee-Chai, A. Y., Chen, S., & Chartrand, T. L. (2001). From Moses to Marcos: Individual differences in the use and abuse of power. In A.Y. Lee-Chai & J.A. Bargh (Eds.), The use and abuse of power: Multiple perspectives on the causes of corruption (pp. 57-74). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.

Tetlock, P.E. (1999). Coping with trade-offs: Psychological constraints and political implications. In S. Lupia, M. McCubbins, & S. Popkin (eds.), Political reasoning and choice. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Albarracín, D., Kumkale, G. T., & Johnson, B. T. (2004). Influences of social power and normative support on condom use decisions: A research synthesis. AIDS Care, 16, 700-723.

Allen, M. W., Gupta, R., & Monnier A. (2008). The interactive effect of cultural symbols and human values on taste evaluation. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 294-308.
Burger, J. M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today? American Psychologist, 64, 1-11.
Cwir, D., Carr, P., Walton, G., & Spencer, S. (2011). Your heart makes my heart move: Cues of social connectedness cause shared emotions and physiological states among strangers. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 661-664.

Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (1999). Just going along: Nonconscious priming and conformity to social pressure. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 578-589.

Gerber, A., Green, D., & Larimer, C. (2008). Social pressure and voter turnout: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment. American Political Science Review, 102, 33-48.
Gino, F., Ayal, S., & Ariely, D. (2009). Contagion and differentiation in unethical behavior: The effect of one bad apple on the barrel. Psychological Science, 20, 393-398.
Johnson, E. J., & Goldstein, D. G. (2003). Do defaults save lives? Science, 302, 1338-1339.
Johnson, J., Carroll, J., Gottschall, J., & Kruger, D.J. (2008). Hierarchy in the library: Egalitarian dynamics in Victorian novels. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 715-738.

LaRose, R. & Kim, J. (2007). Share, steal, or buy? A social cognitive perspective of music downloading. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10, 267-277.

Liu, J. E., Vohs, K. D., & Smeesters, D. (2011). Money and mimicry: When being mimicked makes people feel threatened. Psychological Science, 22, 1150-1151.

Madon, S., Smith, A. E., & Guyll, M. (2005). Social norms regarding protected status and threat reactions to the stigmatized. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 572-602.

Murray, D. R., Trudeau, R., & Schaller, M. (2011). On the origins of cultural differences in conformity: four tests of the pathogen prevalence hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 318-329.

Nije Bijvank, M., Konijn, E. A., Bushman, B. J., & Roelofsma, P. H. M. P. (2009). Age and content labels make video games forbidden fruit for youth. Pediatrics, 123, 870-876.

Smith, P. K., & Bargh, J. A. (2008). Nonconscious effects of power on basic approach and avoidance tendencies. Social Cognition, 26, 1-24.

Smith, P. K., Dijksterhuis, A., & Wigboldus, D. H. J. (2008). Powerful people make good decisions even when they consciously think. Psychological Science, 19, 1258-1259.

Smith, P. K., Jostmann, N. B., Galinsky, A. D., & van Dijk, W. W. (2008). Lacking power impairs executive functions. Psychological Science, 19, 441-447.
Smith, P. K., & Trope, Y. (2006). You focus on the forest when you’re in charge of the trees: Power priming and abstract information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 578-596.

Smith, P. K., Wigboldus, D. H. J., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2008). Abstract thinking increases one's sense of power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 378-385.

Tanner, R. J., Ferraro, R., Chartrand, T. L., Bettman, J. R., & Baaren, R. V. (2008). Of chameleons and consumption: The impact of mimicry on choices and preferences. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 754-766.

Van Vugt, M. (2006). The evolutionary origins of leadership and followership. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 354-372.

Van Vugt, M., Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R. (2008). Leadership, followership, and evolution: Some lessons from the past. American Psychologist, 63, 182-196.

Wegner, D. M., Fuller, V. A., & Sparrow, B. (2003). Clever hands: Uncontrolled intelligence in facilitated communication. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 5-19.

Wim Meeus, H.J., Raaijmakers, Quinten A.W. (1995). Obedience in modern society: The Utrecht studies. Journal of Social Issues, 51, 155-175.





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