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Social Psychology: reading informational text; The Third Wave 9


Read the article, then answer the practice question.

The Third Wave


  1. The Third Wave experiment took place at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California during the first week of April in 1967. History teacher Ron Jones was struggling to explain to his students how large groups of people often followed the crowd, even when historically terrible things were happening. So, he decided to demonstrate this phenomenon to his students through an experiment. Jones announced that he was starting a movement with the goal of eliminating democracy. Jones named the movement “The Third Wave” as a symbol of strength, referring to the mythical belief that the third in a series of waves is the strongest. One of the central points of this movement was that democracy’s main weakness is that it favors the individual over the whole community. Jones emphasized this main point of the movement when he created this catchy motto: “Strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action, strength through pride.”

The Experiment

  1. Jones started the first day of the experiment emphasizing simple things like proper seating, and drilled the students extensively until they got it right. He then proceeded to enforce strict classroom discipline by emerging as an authoritarian figure. This resulted in dramatic improvements to the efficiency and orderliness of the class. The first day’s session ended with only a few rules. Jones intended it to be a one-day experiment. Students had to be sitting at attention before the second bell, had to stand up to ask or answer questions, had to ask and answer questions in three words or fewer, and were required to preface each remark with “Mr. Jones”. As the week went on, Jones's class transformed into a group with a supreme sense of discipline and community. Jones made up a salute resembling that of the Nazi regime and ordered class members to salute each other even outside the class. They all obeyed this command.
  2. After only three days, the experiment took on a life of its own, with students from all over the school joining in. The class expanded from the initial 30 students to 43 attendees. All of the students showed drastic improvement in their academic skills and tremendous motivation. All of the students were issued a member card and each of them received a special assignment, like designing a Third Wave banner, stopping non-members from entering the class, or other tasks to bring honor to the movement. Jones instructed the students on how to initiate new members, and by the end of the third day, the movement had over 200 participants. Jones was surprised that some of the students started reporting to him when other members of the movement failed to abide by the rules.
  3. By the fourth day of the experiment, the students became increasingly involved in the project and their discipline and loyalty to the project was so outstanding that Jones felt it was slipping out of control. He decided to terminate the movement; he lied to students by announcing that the Third Wave was part of a nationwide movement, and that on the next day, a presidential candidate who was a member of the movement would publicly announce its existence on television. Jones ordered his students to attend a noon rally on Friday to witness the announcement.
  4. At the end of the week, instead of a televised address by their leader, the students were presented with a blank channel. After a few minutes of waiting, Jones announced that they had been a part of an experiment to demonstrate how people willingly create a sense of superiority over others, and how authoritarian movements encourage horrible actions in the name of the state’s honor.

Practice question

What were TWO ways Jones persuaded students to conform to the Third Wave movement?
Choose 2 answers: