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Subjects were 18 male and 39 female students randomly recruited from among the student population of a medium sized university in Southern California. They range in age from 18 to 55 years.


A preference sheet was used to record each subject's sex, birth order and choice of experiment. The preference sheet described two fictitious experiments, a group experiment and an isolation experiment, from which the subjects were asked to make a choice.


The experimenters were divided into same-sex pairs to contact subjects of the same-sex in order to eliminate cross-sex bias.

The partners took turns playing the role of the experimenter and confederate to contact three subjects for each of the three conditions for a total of six subjects contacted by each pair of experimenter and confederate.

In the confederate-yes condition, the partners entered the experimental area and selected a potential subject. The confederate then sat next to the subject and began to read. After a few minutes, the experimenter approached the confederate and asked in a voice loud enough for the subject to overhear: "Excuse me. I'm a student in the psychology department. We're doing some experiments right now and need subjects. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes. I wonder if you would be willing to participate."

After a moment's hesitation, the confederate agreed and started to get up. The experimenter then said "Just a moment," and turned to the subject and repeated the same request. If the subject asked for additional information, the experimenter repeated, or paraphrased the request. If the subject persisted, the experimenter said that more information would be available in the interview area. If the subject left the room with the experimenter and confederate, then he/she was considered to have volunteered. If the subject refused to participate the experimenter politely thanked the subject and left the experimental area with the confederate and filled out the preference sheet with the relevant data.

If the subject agreed to participate in the experiment, then the subject, confederate, and the experimenter went to the interview area where the subject and confederate were each given a preference sheet. When the preference sheets were completed and collected, the experimenter said that he/she would like to interview each of the subjects individually, and asked the confederate to leave for a few minutes. After the confederate had left, the experimenter debriefed the subject and thanked the subject for his/her participation. The experimenter and the confederate waited about 10 minutes before repeating the procedure in the experimental area.

In the confederate-no condition, the procedure was the same as for the confederate-yes condition, except that the confederate said, "No, I would rather not," when asked to volunteer and returned to his/her book.
In the control condition, the procedure was the same except that experimenters worked independently. Each experimenter approached a subject directly and asked him/her to volunteer.

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