The truth

The Stanford Prison Experiment is an extremely popular experiment in social psychology. It featured normal people taking on the role of prisoners and guards. And most importantly, it featured fights, abuse, dehumanization, nervous breakdowns, bullying, and more. Despite a series of dubious practices, for decades it was considered a legitimate study.

The BBC Prison Study is a not-quite-as-popular experiment in social psychology. It featured normal people taking on the role of prisoners and guards. And most importantly, it featured camaraderie, compassion, some moderate conflict over food, negotiation, the institution of a commune, and long discussions on how to govern the whole group. Despite the fact it was reality TV, it led to a number of academic papers that were eventually accepted in official psychology curricula.

The point is, not always the story that is closer to facts and reality is the most popular. A story just has to be repeated enough times to become plausible, and when that happens, it is very difficult to later convince people it was a hoax, and actually things work in a different way.

This is something we know.

And it is our responsibility as marketers, advertisers, communicators, and change-seekers, to use such power with great care.

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