The Dr. Phil studio audience was secretly recorded while waiting to be seated. Would they blindly follow someone just because he looked like an authority figure?
See the hilarious results!
Dr. Zimbardo explains, "We are trained, from the time we are kids, to be obedient to authority, and usually that's good: our parents, our teachers, our priests, our rabbis. The problem is not all authority is just. In this case, it was a simple demonstration of how people can mindlessly obey somebody who looks like authority."
The actor, Rene, was holding a hat that resembled a police officer's hat, and perhaps that's why they followed his ridiculous directions.
In another experiment, audience members are tested on how far they would go when an authority figure asks them to potentially cause harm.
See what happens when Jason, an unsuspecting audience member, is asked to guard a hoodlum with a weapon!
The taser used in the experiment is fake, and the security guard and perpetrator are actors.
"So, some guy with a hat on just walks up and says, â€˜If he moves, hit him with 40,000 volts,' and you gave him 80,000!" Dr. Phil exclaims to Jason. "Are you a mean guy, generally speaking?"
"Not at all," he says.
"Do you have a rough-and-tumble job or something?"
"No, sir. I'm a facility director at our church," Jason says.
"I bet that collection plate fills up this Sunday!" Dr. Phil jokes.