This is for my Social Psychology class - for assessment and communication. I hope you find my thoughts interesting and please feel free to comment!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Social Experiments Dr Phil Style

Hi Everyone,
While attempting to do my study I stumbled upon the last bit of today's Dr Phil (fancy that ha ha) anyway from what I saw I noticed the episode was surrounding a social experiment. I found the details on the website and have added the details to catch you up to speed. (I have decided to leave the full story so it gives you the whole picture). The show may have included other examples of social experiments but I only managed to see this one.

"The Dr. Phil cameras go to Grand Central Terminal during rush hour. Heidi is turned into a fashion nightmare, with toilet paper hanging off of her shoe and her thong underwear clearly exposed. As she walks around, many people look at her, some even whispering to others. One woman calls her friend over and points out Heidi’s revealing underwear. A guy snaps a photo of Heidi’s backside with the camera on his cell phone. A few people actually stop her and let her know that she has toilet paper stuck to her shoe, but no one mentions her underwear. One woman says, “It looked not very nice. We could have gone to her and asked her if she knows about this or not, but we just didn’t.” Her friend adds, “We are not locals, so maybe it’s normal here, you know.”

Another woman, Therese, holds nothing back. “You know, I’ve got to tell you something,” she says to Heidi. “You’re a disaster. You have toilet paper, and you have your thong exposed.”

After the encounter, Therese tells why she stopped Heidi. “Women have to help women today, so there I was out taking care of her,” she says.

Dr. Phil introduces Therese. “Why did you decide to go up to her?” he asks. “She looked very vulnerable out there,” she says. “When I walked by, the first thing I noticed was the toilet paper, and then when I noticed the underwear, and she was in Grand Central, I thought, wow, this is really terrible.”

"How did you think she would respond?” Dr. Phil asks. “Because it is a risk when you step up to somebody and say something like, ‘You’re a disaster.’” “I wasn’t sure how she was going to react,” Therese says. “But I thought I was helping her that way.” “Because you’re such a fashion maven and have such courage, we just thought it would be appropriate to give you a $1,000 American Express gift card, so you can go do some shopping,” Dr. Phil tells Therese. “Thank you!” Therese replies.

I got this transcript off the Dr Phil website, then click on 'Will anyone tell a woman about her wardrobe malfunctions'?

From what I saw I found this extremely interesting as often I have seen people with something wrong and thought to myself "oh no what do I do" and this illustrated that point is also true for many people. This in a way relates to 'bystander effect' yet the problem gets worse when no one is willing to step up. Eventually in this case 'Heidi' was told regarding her problems but in everyday life things don't always turn out that way. I know how embarrassing it is when after several hours you notice something is wrong with you and yet no one told you.

If anyone saw the show and has any more information or thoughts I would really like to hear them. Also I just want to say how fun it is to relate Dr Phil to Social Psychology - practical and entertaining!

But I just have one question for you: what would you do? (if you didn't know it was a social experiment). Would you say something? or look the other way?

Dr Phil. (2007). What would you do? Retrieved August 29, 2007 from



James Neill said...

Interesting example/dilemma. A good demonstration of bystander effect? And perhaps also gender relations. Males might feel more uncomfortable about bringing it up. And it's a fuzzy situation (e.g., showing thong). One could be afraid of offending if it was actually intentional.

Also, note, you've been clear here (good) to use quote marks and attribute the content appropriately to the source.

ZPeel said...

Hi James,
Thanks for letting me know re: bystander effect - that is the concept I was thinking of, I must have gotten my terms mixed up. I have changed my blog to show this now. Thanks.

Kara said...

HEy Zoe!
I saw a similar social experiment done by some show (Prob oprah). Where they had a man go out in a bodysuit to make him look big.They also put make up on him to make him look really scruffy. Then they sent him out into town to talk to people (I think he just asked them for the time). I think he also applied for a few jobs, and asked for assistance in stores. Everyone either avoided him or made an excuse not to talk to him. They sent him out again in the same situation, as his normal self. and of course the reactions were very different. I'll try and find the clip (when I finsih with my blog esaay), and post it up But it was a very interesting watch.

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