As a person who was subjec
ted to this experiment
, I have to say this: It's dumb, many people know about it, and it makes you (the person administering the experiment) look SOOOOO presumptuous
. The effect was totally lost on me since I'd seen the PBS
special some time before.
It may have some value, in that it shows people just how stupidly they can behave, but it is a very played-out and sometimes cruel sociological device. However, like I said, if even one person in the group knows what you are doing, they are not going to get anything out of it, and may actively try to throw a wrench into the works. I certainly did.
Let's go into the informed consent thing mentioned by Baron Saturday, above. I don't appreciate being used as some kind of weird guinea pig, especially at the behest of some youth leader who is getting incredible kicks out of watching a process he started to affect everyone except himself. I wasn't amused by the tedium of the other youth leaders pretending to give me the evil eye, nor by the order to sit on the ground. Oh, and look, now we're being told to trade places with the "oppressors." Fabulous! Now we get to treat them like they treated us!!! HOORAY.
Later, as we were discussing it, I said that I didn't particularly associate myself with the whole experience, that I didn't feel a part of the group, either as oppressed or oppressors. Because no one else felt that way (or had the guts to stand up and say so), I was obviously wrong. I might have forgot to mention that I'd seen the PBS special beforehand. :)
So, to recap: Don't do this experiment. Seriously, don't. Humans are not toys for use in fueling your private ego trip. True, some of your subjects may appreciate the experiment, or at least feign appreciation so as not to seem the odd one out. However, I can virtually guarantee that some of your subjects will not appreciate being treated like pawns.