In 1962, a classic social psychology experiment was completed by Schachter and Singer. In the study, the researchers injected participants with a drug. The drug was known to increase physiological arousal. Physiological arousal includes increased heart rate, blood pressure, and energy. Only half of the participants were told about the drug’s effects in advance. The participants were then divided into two groups. The first group of participants was placed in a waiting room with non-study individuals who acted happy. The second group of participants was placed in a waiting room with non-study individuals who acted annoyed. Interestingly, those participants who were not told about the drug’s effects beforehand responded to the drug in the same manner as the non-study individuals with whom they shared a waiting room. Participants waiting with happy people became happy, while participants waiting with annoyed people became annoyed (Schachter & Singer, 1962).
The Schachter and Singer study is believed to support Daryl J. Bem’s Self-Perception Theory. Bem’s theory suggests that when a person is experiencing vague or unknown internal stimuli (such as the increased heart rate and blood pressure mentioned in the study above), that person will then look outside him- or herself to clues within the environment. These external clues are then used to make an interpretation about how the person should feel or behave (Bem, 1972).
Describe a situation from your own life or a situation you observed in which you or others responded primarily because of the behaviors, attitudes, or feelings of those around you (please describe the situation in detail).
In your own words, define the theory by Schachter and Singer and explain how it applies to your situation. Describe the internal stimuli that you were experiencing and signals that you picked up on from the other people within your environment.
In your own words, define Bem’s theory and provide an example. Discuss how Bem’s theory is different from Schacter and Singer’s theory?