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The Schachter and Singer Page


Below is a very brief summary of the Schachter and Singer study.  You will need to use the more detailed summary here to revise for the exam.

You can also find all of the past exam questions on Schachter and Singer's study here.   

Jerome Singer

Here is a multi-choice quiz
Here is a matching quiz
And here is another matching quiz


Stanley Schachter

Here is a really good biography of Stanley Schachter.

Here are some comprehension questions.

Humour can reduce the emotional impact of anxiety-provoking situations – for example;
A woman told her friend, “For eighteen years my husband and I were the happiest people in the world. Then we met”.


Schachter and Singer developed the two-factor theory of emotion.  The two-factor theory suggests that emotion comes from a combination of a state of arousal and a cognition that makes best sense of the situation the person is in.  For example, the two-factor theory of emotion argues that when people become aroused they look for cues as to why they feel the way they do.

The aim of the experiment was to test the two-factor theory of emotion.

  From the aim three propositions (or hypotheses) were devised:

1.   If a person experiences a state of arousal for which they have no immediate explanation, they will describe their emotions in terms of the cognitions available to them at the time.  

2.   If a person experiences a state of arousal for which they have an appropriate explanation (e.g.  ‘I feel this way because I have just received an injection of adrenalin’), then they will be unlikely to describe their emotions in terms of the alternative cognitions available.   

3.   If a person is put in a situation, which in the past could have made them feel an emotion, they will react emotionally or experience emotions only if they are in a state of physiological arousal.

The participants were 184 male college students, taking classes in introductory psychology at Minnesota University. 

As soon as the participant arrived, he was taken to a private room by the experimenter and told that the aim of the experiment was ‘to look at the effects of vitamin injections on visual skills’, and was asked if he would mind having an injection of ‘Suproxin’ (made up name).  

184 out of 195 participants agreed to the injection.  They were given an injection (by a doctor) of either adrenalin (epinephrine) or a placebo, which was actually a saline solution, which has no side effects at all.  The effects of the adrenalin are an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar level, respiration rate, and blood flow to the muscles and brain, with an accompanying decrease in blood flow to the skin.  This is often experienced as palpitations, tremors, flushing and faster breathing.  The effects begin after three minutes and last from ten minutes to an hour.  

The participants were then put in one of four experimental conditions:

1.   Adrenalin Ignorant - participants were given an adrenalin injection and not told of the effects of the drug.

2.   Adrenalin Informed - participants were given an adrenalin injection and warned of the ‘side effects’ of the drug (hand shake, heart pounding, dry mouth etc.).  The participants were therefore prepared for the effects of the adrenalin (although they thought they were to do with the suproxin).

3.   Adrenalin Misinformed - participants were given an adrenalin injection and told to expect side effects but were told these would be numb feet and headache.  These participants would, therefore, not be expecting the effects of the adrenalin.

4.   Control Group - Placebo - participants were given an injection that would have no effect and were given no instructions of what to expect.

Participants were then allocated to either the euphoria condition or the anger condition.

In the euphoria situation a stooge in a waiting room carried out a number of silly tasks designed to entertain and amuse the participant.

In the anger situation a stooge in a waiting room carried out tasks and made comments designed to annoy the participant.


The conditions in the Schachter and Singer experiment  



Informed (told correct effects)

Informed (told correct effects)

Ignorant  (told nothing)

Ignorant  (told nothing)

Misinformed  (told incorrect effects)


Placebo (told nothing)

Placebo (told nothing)

The researchers then made observational measures of emotional response through a one-way mirror, and also took self-report measures from the participants.    

In the euphoria condition the misinformed participants were feeling happier than all the others.  The second happiest group was the ignorant group.  This demonstrates that these participants were more susceptible to the stooge because they had no explanation of why their bodies felt as they did.  The informed group felt the least happy because they understood why they felt as they did.

In the anger condition, the ignorant group felt the angriest.  The second angriest group was the placebo group.  The least angry group was those who were informed.  Again this shows that participants were more susceptible to the stooge because they had no explanation of why their body felt as it did.   
Schachter and Singer argue that their findings support their two-factor theory of emotion.   The two-factor theory of emotion states that the physiological arousal in different emotion is entirely the same and we label our arousal according to the cognitions we have available.

Schachter and Singer argue that all three propositions were supported.