Psychological Experiments – Mother Turkey

Psychological Experiments: Mother Turkey. I have always been fascinated with the human mind since I was a teenager and for me; psychological experiments reveal some of its secrets. In this series of articles, I have chosen interesting, mind-blowing, brilliant experiments with astonishing results, yet with simple explanations, to share with you.

I will also try to give you real-life examples of the applications that you could use in your daily interactions with others. Some of the concepts could be used in business settings (i.e. as a marketing tool).

In the first few articles, I will be focusing on experiments that are related to “INFLUENCE” which is considered life’s most powerful skill. We all use influence tactics and fall victim to them to some degree in our daily interactions, consciously or subconsciously, with other people whether they are coworkers, neighbors, friends, lovers, or family members. But highly skilled influential people have much more than the vague and incompetent understanding of what works than the rest of us have.

In the influence-related articles, we will delve deeply into the human mind, how it operates and what kind of triggers people respond to and then using that knowledge to help you predict, manipulate and influence the actions of your opponent.

Are you ready?

Experiment (1): Mother Turkey

This experiment was performed by animal behaviorist M. W. Fox (1974). It involved a mother turkey and a stuffed polecat which is considered a natural enemy, whose approach triggers fear and makes the turkey mother squawks, pecks and claws.

1- When a stuffed polecat was drawn by a string to a mother turkey, it received an immediate and furious attack.

2- When, however, the same stuffed replica carried inside it a small recorder that played the sound of baby turkeys, the mother not only accepted the oncoming polecat but gathered it underneath her.

3- When the machine was turned off, the polecat model again drew a vicious attack.

Mother Turkey – Explanation

Humans, too, have their pre-programmed tapes; and, although they usually work to our advantage, the trigger features that activate them can deceive us into playing the tapes at the wrong times. Be careful not to become a toy that other people can move you around by pulling your strings. Know when to respond and when to shut-up. 

Real-life Examples

Expensive = Good

Normally the price of an item increases along with its worth; a higher price typically reflects higher quality. So when you find yourself in the position of wanting something (a good) but do not have much knowledge of, you rely on the old standby feature of cost to determine the merits of that good.[1]

The classic case of this phenomenon is that of Chivas Regal Scotch Whiskey, which had been a struggling brand until its managers decided to raise its price to a level far above its competitors. Sales skyrocketed, even though nothing was changed in the product itself.[2]

You and I exist in an extraordinarily complicated environment. To deal with it, we need shortcuts. We can’t be expected to recognize and analyze all the aspects in each person, event, and situation we encounter in even one day. We don’t have the time, energy, or capacity for it. Instead, we must very often use our stereotypes, our rules of thumb, to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond without thinking when one or another of these triggers features is present.[3]

There is evidence suggesting that the form and pace of modern life is not allowing us to make fully thoughtful decisions, even on many personally relevant topics. That is, sometimes the issues may be so complicated, the time so tight, the distractions so intrusive, the emotional arousal so strong, or the mental fatigue so deep that we are in no cognitive condition to operate mindfully. Important topic or not, we have to take the shortcut.[4] 

Being aware of how your mind works at these times is the first step you can take to gain your control of your decisions back.


[1] Rao, A. R., & Monroe, K. B. (1989). The effect of price, brand name, and store name on buyer’s perceptions of product quality. Journal of Marketing Research

[2] Aaker, D. A. (1991, Managing brand equity. New York: Free Pres

[3] Robert B. Cialdini, Influence, Science and Practice, Fourth Edition

[4] Cohen, S. (1978). Environmental load and the allocation of attention. In A. Baum, J. E. Singer, & S. Valins (Eds.), Advances in environmental psychology (Vol. 1). New York: Halstead Press

Australia Unwrapped bring you a complete series of Psychological Experiments:

Part Two - Psychological Experiments – Please
Part Three - Psychological Experiments – Mating Signals

Main Image Source : Pixabay

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Aly GadElmoula
Aly GadElmoula
My name is Aly GadElmoula, I’m 33 years old businessman living with my lovely wife, Wafaa, and my beautiful daughter, Nermine. I have spent more than 11 years of my life studying and working in the field of IT, Information Technology, but I’ve recently changed my career to teaching English and got myself a nice frame for my CELTA, Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. I hope by telling you this you will be able to see how much I love English. I love reading it and I sure love writing in English especially in the fields of technology, psychology and business. I’ve recently worked as a business consultant for a number of websites in India, USA, UK and Australia. I’ve also written some exciting e-books with one in particular that I’m really proud of, The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Freelance. “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” Robert Benchley



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