The Human Behavior Experiments (2006)

A look back at famous social psychology from the 60’s and 70’s and how they apply to modern events like Abu Ghraib. Any high school or college psychology student has probably heard about the murder of Kitty Genovese and the 38 witnesses who didn’t call for help or the Berkley experiments that turned students on students by assigning some of them roles as prisoners and others as wardens. However, it is quite dramatic to actually seeing footage of some of the experiments that explored the how people can run wild with power or shirk responsibility when they think others will take action. Most curious is a modern case where a stranger posing as a police officer could make a simple phone call and convince fast food managers to perform strip searches on their employees. It is almost too strange to believe, but victims testify to the truthfulness of this weird tale that happened over 50 times. One of the managers who fell victim to this ploy goes on camera to defend herself, to say that you shouldn’t judge her because you don’t know what you would do if you were in her position. I’m pretty sure I do know what I would do, but then again I have never shown enough respect to authority.

As for the film The Human Behavior Experiments does not impress. I would have liked to have seen this film question what type of people fall prey to such schemes. Certainly there are stronger and weaker human minds or perhaps even cultural differences that make certain people more or less prone to different behavioral responses. This film could have explored those issues instead of simply rehashing old studies and trying to connect them to modern topics. It most certainly could have dispelled the Kitty Genovese story, which has since been investigate and it has been reported that some people did call the cops and that journalists may have inflated or simply made up the number of unresponsive witnesses. Overall the film has little to offer beyond this one recent tale of fast food madness and a few snippets of archival footage from the original experiments The Human Behavior Experiments feels like a refresher course in the obvious psychological reactions of humans.


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