Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

January 1971


Published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17:2 (1971), pp. 208–213. Copyright © 1971 American Psychological Association. Used by permission. “This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.”


One hundred and five college freshmen were given one of two different side-effects lists associated with a placebo pill. In a “second” experiment, subjects experienced failure on a vocabulary test, supposedly predictive of college success, and received an opportunity to cheat on the test by changing answers. Although it was anticipated that all subjects who considered cheating would experience some arousal, it was predicted that those subjects told to expect drug-induced side effects related to sympathetic arousal would not label their experienced arousal as fear or guilt, and would cheat more than the subjects who anticipated benign side effects. Of the subjects expecting arousal side effects, 49% cheated, as compared with 27% of the control subjects (p < .025). Sex differences and implications for theoretical approaches to emotion and conscience are discussed.