Apply it! Exercises

Social Contagion
Jonah Lehrer
1. Apply the principles of normative and informational social influence to explain the "outbreak" of dancing at the music festival mentioned in the article.
2. What impact do you think group size, anonymity, and the behavior of that initial male dancer (as a source of minority influence on the majority) had on the development of this dance party?
"Excuse Me. May I Have Your Seat?"
Michael Luo
3.
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Analyze the experiment described in the article from the perspective of the person giving up her seat. Why might she say "yes" to the request? Why might she say "no"? What can explain the behavior of the people who were clearly unhappy with the request, but still gave up their seat?
4.
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Analyze the experiment from the perspective of the person making the request. Why was it so hard to make the request? Try it yourself the next time you are on a bus, subway, or even in a classroom. Ask someone to give up his seat for you. Can you do it? What social forces are responsible for the difficulty of the task?
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Milgram and Torture
The Situationist Staff
5.
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The blog post suggests that "the Justice Department set up a Milgram experiment in which the stresses of war served as the man in the white lab coat." Using the information in your textbook, analyze what this quotation might mean.
6. How could ineffective and indecisive disobedience, and release from responsibility, act to allow the abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison? To fully analyze this issue, you may want to read the 2004 New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh that first broke the story about the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/05/10/040510fa_fact .

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