Posted in Derren Brown News

Posted by Derren Brown News October 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Derren Brown returns to our screens with “The Experiments” a brand new four part series for Channel 4. Each stand-alone episode asks and answers a single question featuring the usual inventive and jaw dropping Derren Brown mixture of stunts, suggestion and thought-provoking entertainment combined with tried and tested psychological experiments, to illustrate how easily our behaviour can be manipulated.

In “The Gameshow”, the second show in the series, Derren Brown turns himself into the host of a game show and investigates whether we all have the capacity for evil and whether or not being part of a group affects our sense of right and wrong?

The Experiments – The Assassin (Episode 1), airs Friday 21st October at 9pm on Channel 4.
The Experiments – The Gameshow (Episode 2), airs Friday 28th October at 9pm on Channel 4.

October 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm
Harshil says:

Looks great! Will be sure to tune in!

October 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm
Mark says:

Read about this one in radio times. Me wonders whether the audience are evil to him or nice to him.

October 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm
Jen says:

yay!!! sounds brilliant!! 🙂

October 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm
Andrew says:

I will surely be ogling the telly box on those specific dates.

October 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm
lorna says:

Lol, I heard about this haha ooooooooooooooooo, its gonna be good 😛

October 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm
Astonj says:

Will definitely be sure to tune in! So glad I got to meet Derren on the Svengali tour AND he ‘hypnotized’ me! 😀

October 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm
Rachael says:

Last Halloween it was Psychoville and this year its mixed with Derren, perfect!

Can’t wait to watch them, sound brilliant!


October 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm
Anthony says:

Cannot wait for the gamehow! It sounds awesome!

October 12, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I most definitely think being part of a group affects how we think & act, no matter what it is. Am very interested to watch this one….

LC x

October 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm

We ARGers know the effects of group behaviour all too well 😉

October 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Woohoo! Just saw the awesomely dark advert. So excited! My hubby-to-be and I will be watching eagerly. Can’t wait to see your show next March. It’ll be my first time. Also delighted to have recently spotted that the experiment I did my PhD on got a mention on here when it first “smashed atoms” 😀

October 12, 2011 at 9:42 pm
Ella says:

Ooh this sounds interesting! I do indeed think that we all have the capacity for evil – however, I don’t think we all are affected by a group decision… hmm.
I am intrigued!

October 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm
Alex C says:

This will no doubt be related to the stanford prison experiment by zimbardo (shocking what happened in that study…)

October 12, 2011 at 10:35 pm
Cathy says:


October 13, 2011 at 8:05 am
Dean Fox says:

Derren Brown meets the Stamford Prison experiment? Eek, this I must see.

October 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm
Bob says:

Stanford Prison Experiment. Plus people affected by peer pressure to varying degrees ie the experiment where people are asked a simple question in the presence of people who answer same question honestly and in the presence of those told to answer incorrect on purpose before they answer it. We are all compliant to varying degrees. We have to be to survive.
Also read people can be brainwashed into a cult in about 3 days if you isolate them from their everyday life, ‘love bomb’ them ie give them loads of praise if they follow the group code and speak and act as though it is true. Keep them awake for long periods, take away privacy, treat them badly when they don’t comply. Put the group values above individual rights
Actually bits of this begins to sound extreme versions of everyday life!

October 17, 2011 at 9:24 pm
Megan says:

Wonder how difficult this will be to find in the US…

October 19, 2011 at 11:26 am
Jenny says:

I wonder whether it will be like that French show “Le jeu de la mort” which caused a bit of controversy last year (it was basically the classic Milgram obedience experiment in gameshow form). I’m sure Derren will acknowledge the similarity if so. Alternatively, it might be like a darkened-up version of “My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss”. Oooh, speculation…

October 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm
natasha says:

I was lucky enough to be part of the gameshow audience looking forward to
Seeing it friday! Really is very scary and gets you thinking is all I shall say. Derren brown
Is brilliant!

October 25, 2011 at 12:34 am
Juls says:

Actually I think this is more like the Milgram experiment ( and makes me question whether we should ethically repeat these experiments purely for entertainment value, it’s not actually telling us anything different so where is the value in it?

October 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Amber says:

Woah just watched the first one! Amazing, my heart was in my throat:O

October 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm
stewgreen says:

– anyone see any parallels with shows like “You’ve Been Framed” where many people laugh at people falling over.
– Did you figure out that jump thru the doorway trick ?.like many of Derren’s tricks it’s ridiculously simple
– now Derren Brown creates a cult that would be a worthy show ..or maybe he’s already done it ?

October 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm
Fergus Neville says:

We would like to dispute in the strongest possible terms the theoretical underpinnings and proposed implications from Derren Brown’s crowd ‘experiment’ aired on 28/10/11. Whilst we welcome Brown’s efforts to popularise social psychology in innovative and engaging ways, this particular episode was premised upon outdated theory that led to misleading and dangerous conclusions. (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm
Fergus Neville says:

2) We have several methodological issues with the study, including the fact that it was not an experiment (as claimed by the title) since no independent variable was manipulated (there was not a sample making equivalent decisions alone or without masks), the ‘bad’ choice was always presented to the audience second, and Derren, who led the ‘experiment’ is renowned for his skill in influencing people’s decision-making processes. However, methodological confounds aside, the purpose of this piece is to question the psychological theory upon which the episode was based. (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:51 pm
Fergus Neville says:

3) Brown stated during the episode and in a subsequent interview on his website that ‘deindividuation’ within crowds causes people to lose their identities and consequently behave in inevitably anti-social ways. Empirical work from the last thirty years has discredited these claims. This research has shown that rather than a loss of identity within crowds, there is a shift from personal to social levels of identification. Instead of acting in terms of the norms and behavioural limits of one’s personal identity, one therefore acts in coherence with the norms of one’s salient social identity. (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:51 pm
Fergus Neville says:

4) These norms will differ depending upon which collective identity is salient at any given time e.g. as a resident of a local community, supporter of a sports team, or as a member of an audience at a television recording. Crowd behaviour is therefore rooted in social context, such that individuals may even act more pro-socially in a crowd than they would do alone (see e.g. the non-violent resistance of Indian crowds in the face of colonial British rule, or within-crowd helping during emergencies [see a blog post on this topic – (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:52 pm
Fergus Neville says:

5) In the case of Friday’s ‘experiment’, the audience acted in terms of their collective identity as audience members in at least two ways. First, the very object of being in a gameshow audience is by definition to be entertained. Each time the audience were faced with a choice, they picked what was clearly the most entertaining option, and the selection that would prolong their involvement in the event (the audience also understood that the consequences of their actions weren’t real; akin to an interactive episode of Beadle’s About!). Second, the menacing masks that audience members wore were hardly neutral cues; in fact the very same masks were later worn by the ‘group of thugs’ who attempted the kidnap in the final scene. (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:52 pm
Fergus Neville says:

6) As famously demonstrated by Johnson and Downing (1979), when people were given masks resembling those of the KKK they displayed more anti-social behaviour than control participants. However, when these same people were given nurses’ uniforms they displayed significantly less anti-social behaviour than controls. The fact that audience members wearing the ‘thug’ masks chose anti-social options is consistent with the argument that crowd behaviour is contextualised, and not the proposed explanation that it is inherently anti-social. (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:53 pm
Fergus Neville says:

7) It is important to emphasise that we are not arguing that crowds are immune from anti-social behaviour; some of the very worst atrocities in history have been committed by crowds (e.g. religious pogroms, lynchings etc.). The point is that crowd behaviour is neither inherently good nor bad, but is dependent upon the norms of the shared social identity of its members. (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:53 pm
Fergus Neville says:

8) Why is all this important? Does it really matter to anyone other than social psychologists that outdated theory is portrayed as factual on prime-time television? The point is that an understanding of crowd psychology has important consequences for society. Pathologising crowds as anti-social entities acting without identity or reason can legitimate their violent repression by security forces, prevent intragroup helping in emergencies, and facilitate the dismissal of popular protest as irrational by those in positions of power. (continued in next post)

October 31, 2011 at 6:54 pm
Fergus Neville says:

9) Poor theory can therefore ultimately lead to both public disorder, and an attack upon our democratic rights as individuals to express our views collectively. It is therefore in all of our interests to gain an accurate understanding of crowd behaviour, rather than rely upon outdated theory that is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Fergus Neville ( and David Novelli (
Crowd psychologists at the University of St Andrews, and University of Sussex respectively.

November 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Richard says:

How did the door work? I could see that the interpretation of the coin was not given, so the person was free to interpret as he wished. Also there were obstructions placed in front of the bad door. If I’d have been there I wonder if I’d have consciously noted these (especially being in the presence of someone known for these things) and what I’d have chosen.