TV 'zoo' will study human behaviour

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The Independent Online

Television's boundless curiosity with human behaviour will reach new limits tonight in a documentary series examining whether individuals would electrocute a total stranger or stay in a burning building just because others did.

Television's boundless curiosity with human behaviour will reach new limits tonight in a documentary series examining whether individuals would electrocute a total stranger or stay in a burning building just because others did.

Programme makers find out by putting ordinary members of the public to the test in experiments exploring the mysteries of human behaviour. The results form a three-part series, Human Zoo, which takes classic social experiments from leading psychology text books and recreates them with the help of the eminent psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo.

The professor, who believes more crimes are committed in the name of obedience than disobedience, was responsible for a study in which volunteers at Stanford University in America were split into guards and inmates in a makeshift jail. The experiment had to be abandoned after the "guards" began assaulting the inmates and several "prisoners" had breakdowns.

Nick Curwin, the series director for LWT, said: "It was very enlightening. We were careful not to go for extreme personalities or situations, so that instead of people thinking, 'I would never do that,' they are left thinking they could."

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