Quiz Show

An analysis of the social-psychological processes within the film, “Quiz Show.”

Alongside “Quiz Show’s palpable entertainment quality, several social-psychological theories are depicted within the plot of the film. The paper discusses compliance, social influence, cognitive dissonance and instrumental conditioning, all of which serve to reveal the intricacies of human nature in one of television’s most controversial scandals.
The 1950’s marked a decade where television quiz shows dominated the airwaves. Contestant Herbert Stempel had won for eight consecutive weeks on `Twenty-One`, and was seemingly invincible. Upon discovering that show ratings had reached a plateau, producers of the popular game show opted for a more appealing contestant. Charles Van Doren quickly became the champion and developed into an American folk hero. Week after week, audiences tuned in to watch Van Doren, an English instructor at Columbia University and a member of one of America’s most renowned literary families. However, viewers were misled and saw only what the network and program’s producers desired them to see. When the disgruntled Stempel alleged that the quiz show was in fact a fraudulent conception, congressional investigator Richard Goodwin exposed the facts that portrayed the deception, after which shock waves reverberated across America.”