Cognitive, social and physiological determinants of emotional state - Schachter, S. and Singer, J.E. (1962)


To test Schachter and Singer's two-factor theory of emotion.


184 male college students taking an intro to psych class; All received extra credit

Research Method

The research method used in this study was a Lab experiment.


  • The participants were told they would be injected with suproxin, a vitamin that effects vision, although no such thing exists. The participants were actually being injected with a placebo saline solution or adrenaline.
  • There were three different groups in the experiment that were given three different types of information:
    * The first group was told the correct side-effects they would experience
    * The second group was told misinformed and told they would experience a dull headache and numbness
    * And the third group received no information at all
  • After the injections the participants waited in another room with one other subject. This subject was actually a confederate or stooge, who behaved in a certain manner (angrily or euphorically)

  • The misinformed group was not used in the anger conditions
  • Two independent observers observed the participants from a one way mirror. The categorized the behavior into four categories.
  • 1. Joins in.
    2. Initiates new activity
    3. & 4. Subject ignores or watches confederate
    The two independent observers agreed on 88% of the items 4. The researchers also gave the participants a self-report questionnaire. They told the participants that the questionnaire was to determine if there were any other factors that could effect vision. There were questions on the questionnaire that asked the participants how happy or irritated they felt, there were also control question to see if the participants experienced


    The adrenaline misinformed and adrenaline ignorant group reported being happiest. This is because they experience the effects of adrenaline, and having no explanation for the bodily arousal, they attributed the feelings to happiness. The anger self-report failed, most participants reported positive feelings, Schacter and Singer attribute this to the fact that they were students eager to please their professor. Subjects who were misled or uniformed about the injections side effects behaved similarly to the confederate. However subjects who knew what to expect, did not show emotions mirroring the confederate.


  • The participants where Deceived of the true purpose of the study and about the administered shocks.
  • Ethical Concerns.
  • Not valuable for women

  • Ecological Validity

    The validity is low because it was conducted in a lab setting.


    Subjects who were misinformed or misled behaved like the confederate Subjects who were informed about the injection behaved normally.


  • Two independent observers.

  • Ethics

  • Deception
  • Gender Bias - no females
  • Cognitive, social and physiological determinants of emotional state - Schachter, S. and Singer, J.E. (1962)

    View the study