Two chances to win "Social Psychology – Revisiting the Classic Studies"

Thanks for all your entries. This competition is now closed and the winners have been contacted.

We’ve got two copies to give away of Social Psychology – Revisiting the Classic Studies, kindly provided to us by Sage. Here’s what they say about the new book:

“The field of social psychology is defined by a number of ‘classic studies’ that all students need to understand and engage with. These include ground-breaking experiments by researchers such as Asch, Festinger, Milgram, Sherif, Tajfel and Zimbardo. With the help of international experts who are renowned for work that has extended upon these researchers’ insights, this book re-examines these classic studies through careful reflection on their findings and a lively discussion of the subsequent work that they have inspired.”

For your chance to win a copy, simply post a comment to this blog post, telling us which is your favourite classic social psychology experiment and why. We’ll pick two winners at random on Friday. Please make sure you include an email address for us to contact you. Good luck!

50 thoughts on “Two chances to win "Social Psychology – Revisiting the Classic Studies"”

  1. The Stanford Prison Experiment is a classic in my opinion. A shocking experiement the likes of which will never be green lit again, with life changing results for the people involved. It illustrated just how close we are to barbarism. It was also the inspiration for a novel and two films.

  2. My favourite classic social psychology experiment is Asch's line judgement/conformity study. The paradigm was so simple yet effective. It gave strong support for the notion of conformity, and showed that social pressure can be quite subtle and need not necessarily involve violence.

  3. My favourite classic experiment has to be Zimbardo's because this is one that has excited and fascinated me for many different reasons throughout my psychology career. Experiments such as this were what first got me interested in psychology in my youth, as this experiment and all that followed was so intriguing. Having later studied psychology at varying levels, and then going on to work in a prison environment I have been able to appreciate (and indeed become sceptical of the methodology) many different facets this study. Not only is this study so illuminating from a scientific standpoint, but also as a fantastic example to help explain and champion the discipline of psychology to the wider world.

  4. my favorite social psych experiment was getting married for a second time

    interestingly i got exactly the same results as the first time

    and when i conferred with my peers they all reported getting the same results too

    this experiment is currently ongoing so final results will be somewhat late i expect


  5. I love Milgram's work, particularly when it involved electricity, it's fascinating how far people will go just because they are told to do something.

  6. I find that I have always associated with, and best understood, the work of Tajfel and his social identity theory. The identity of people based on their membership of different groups, and how that creates conflict and prejudice, and how people strive to change their identity through group membership made the most sense to me when I was studying identity theory. It doesn't take much effort to understand groups as there is plenty of evidence for it in the daily press and your own life experience. mc _at_

  7. Skinner's experiement on cats learning to escape from the Skinner Box opened up a whole new world for me!
    It is the foundation of the explanation of nearly all human behaviour, so I found it incredibly interesting and important.

  8. I remember quite vividly looking at the work by Darley et al. into the bystander effect and the murder of Kitty Genovese during my A levels. It was interesting to read a reinterpretation of the events in Superfreakonomics many years later.

  9. My favorite is Milgram's study, a classic study that produced results uncovering something both shocking and universal about human behavior, carrying some profound implications at the time, regarding how we as a society should view ex-Nazi guards.

  10. I was going to say Sherif's autokinetic dot experiment, but hardly any of the people commenting above seem to have chosen that, so I'll just go along with the majority opinion I guess. ally at

  11. For me it's the variations of Milgram's work that fascinates me. If we can blame someone else (well it wasn't me that pressed the button the confer did) we will do anything, yet seeing the consequences stops us.
    Morals huh?

  12. For me it was definately Cognitive dissonance, the ground breaking social psychological experiment of festinger and carlsmith (1959). I liked this experiment because it gives us insights and tells us stories about why we think and behave the way we do.

  13. For me it would be the Stanford prison. Partially for the reasons mentions above but also due to some people (who shall remain unnamed) who go around proclaiming how they were unaffected by the experiment and showed a solid moral core. This despite ample evidence that the warden was a part of the problem:) So you get two experiments for the price of one.
    ilan451 at-symbol yahoo dot- com

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  15. I'm going to have to vote for Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect. An oft repeated story, the facts of which continue to be misrepresented – like so many “classics” in psychology.

  16. Operant conditioning chamber by B F Skinner. It explains a lot of things like gambling addiction and really all kinds ilif addictive behavior

    Chrisyx @ gmail

  17. I consider my favourite one the Sherif's Boys' Camp Studies. It gives the theoretical basement for the development of strategies for group work and his influence comes to the everyday working life.

    dariob42 @ gmail

  18. Bystander effect. It affected me a lot and motivated me to take an initiative action in case of such situations.

    kingdom.h_sora (at)

  19. Hi,Guys – appreciate the opportunity to throw my hat in the ring for one of these copies of what sounds like a really interesting book:)

    I found it hard to narrow the list down to one experiment, but have finally settled on Milgram's experiment on obedience to authority figures, which beat Zimbardo's classic work by a very slim margin.

    Milgram showed us that we are less in charge of our own actions than we might believe. The willingness of so many to inflict apparent pain on others, even in the face of pleas for mercy, is very helpful in attempting to understand the actions of people in less direct situations.

    Maybe we are more susceptible to statements made by recognized authority figures. This speaks to the hold which news reporting seems to have on the public consciousness. While journalism does not enjoy a particularly positive image, we still tend to believe what we see and hear on television or other media.

    If we are capable of pulling a switch that results in direct pain to another, voting for a restrictive or cruel measure does not seem difficult at all.
    Even though we know better about our ability to hurt, based on Milgram's work and examples that have popped up repeatedly in the past,we still fall victim to trusting those who we see as in charge or as powerful.

    When a government official, or a well-funded politician, or a famous entertainer or sports figure speaks, we tend to listen and accept. We assume trust that someone who has some “oomph” (authority) will use that power wisely and well.

    This is the extension of what Milgram found – that authority can influence behavior, even over other human impulses, such as kindness and mercy.

    So, Milgram introduced that concept or at least made it more known. Zimbardo's work with the “prison guards” and “inmates” really just shows how easily we slip into defined roles. The basic issue still remains our susceptibility to obeying authority, even when that authority is suspect and the obedience causes pain.


  20. One of my favorite social psychology experiment is Latané, Williams, and Harkins' (1979) study on social loafing (i.e., the idea that people reduce their individual effort when working in a group versus when they work alone).

    Steve Nguyen
    Email: steve.nguyen [at] aol [dot] com


    Latané, B., Williams, K., & Harkins, S. (1979). Many hands make light the work: The causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality And Social Psychology, 37(6), 822-832. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.37.6.822

  21. I really like Asch's conformity experiments. Firstly, they really shine a light on the power of 'group think'. Secondly, I think that reflecting on the results of the experiments can provide insight into how I personally respond to group situations, and into how to design group situations (such as meetings) where everyone feels confident expressing their own thoughts and opinions. Thirdly, because they lead to hilarious “experiments” like this –

  22. I have to say Tajfel and Turner's minimal group studies – I think the findings about the effects of membership to arbitrary groups have profound implications today, especially when considering discrimination! neets (doht) L (doht) smith (at) gmail (doht) com

  23. Would the Framingham heart study count in here, discovering the strengths of weak ties and the importance of community in heart health? I'm fond of that one and did a small “pilgramage” to Framingham (MA) just because… info (at) lvsconsulting (dot) com

  24. Most of the classics in social psychology, like Stanford prison and Milgram's obedience studies are inherently interesting not just because the insight they give but also because they'd never get passed most students strict ethics boards today.

    These seem like exciting times, the wild west of psychology, when people lived by their own rules and would do science no matter what.

    I'll pick Milgram's obedience studies not just because they are so iconic and memorable and exciting and informative.. but because I recently heard interviews from participants in a 1970's recreation. Just when I thought I couldn't hear anything new about these experiments, I realised I had completely underestimated the negative impact an unethical experiment can have on the entire lives of it's participants.

    A lesson every experimental psychologist should learn well.

  25. I'd have to go with Aronson and Mill's famous study on cognitive dissonance and individual's appraisals of groups. Not only was the result of the study contradictory to intuition, the harder it becomes to join something, the more one will actually like being a member of that group, but the design was innovative and ground-breaking.

  26. I would also choose the Stanford Prison Experiment and was an interest for US Navy and Marine Corps as an investigation into the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners.

  27. Regarding Social Psychology, the study that springs to mind and is so striking is Milgram's Obedience Studies. This study blow me away, how the human mind could be so easily manipulated with ease to harm another person despite cries for help.

    I personally think if this study was repeated today that no significant change would come about.

  28. Albert’s Banduras “labeling experiment” because it showed that the labels my group gives others(nice or animalistic) and the personal responsibility I feel for them; can influence my decision to treat them nice or bad (with eletric shocks).

  29. Muzafer Sherif's Robber's Cave Experiment is one of my favourites. I like this one because I teach high school and I get many opportunities to see how in-groups and out-groups are formed amongst my students. It is also one that resonates with my senior level students who take introductory social science courses with me.

  30. Milgram's obedience study. I was really shocked after a lecture on it, and even more shocked when doing some literature research and finding out that there some -not exact, but close- recent replications!

  31. I know “favourite” means to choose one. But I cannot decide between Milgrim's obedience study or Festinger's Cognitive Dissonance! I love Milgrim's study because it shows how “normal people” can become “evil” given the right conditions. But I love Festinger's Cognitive Dissonance Theory. I use it pretty often to explain other peoples' actions.

  32. Without any hesitation, the Stanford prison experiment is the classic of the classic to me. It is because at that time, without so much ethical pressure pressed from the external world, so that Prof. Zimbardo felt free to push the boundaries and had such great experiment to prove situational has great power on human. There is a bit envy at a bit low moral pressure in that generation.

  33. It is very difficult to pin down a specific classic but one of my favourites is Allport's Contact Hypothesis. I not only find it interesting that prejudice emerges very early and children show a preference for playing with those similar to them (e.g. same skin colour) but Allport's experiments are also very useful for telling us something about how to reduce prejudice attitudes and behaviour. Many of his studies confirmed that people who have meaningful contact with outgroup members are more likely to have positive attitudes towards members of that outgroup. Allport's wortk has obviously been built upon since but the contact hypothesis was a really good move towards a less prejudice society.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win the book!

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