If you’re not familiar with this, just google “Milgram experiment” and get ready for some scary reading. If you ARE familiar with this, check out this link to a Washington Post article which describes a recent French reality show that found contestants willing to kill for cash. Here is a BBC excerpt on Milgram's work.
In an environment much less controlled than Milgram's lab at Yale or even the stage of a rigged game show, a researcher of different sort found similar results. From 1995 to 2004, a prankster pretending to be a police officer called fast food chains and ordered store managers to strip-search their employees. And commonly, managers obeyed.
At least 70 calls were reported.
The prankster's more creative successes include convincing a female McDonald's manager to undress in front of customers, one of whom the prankster identified as a suspected sex offender. The manager believed she was acting as bait and that when the purported sex offender moved in to attack, undercover police would swoop in to arrest him.
For more anecdotes essential to human existence, consider picking up a copy of my new book, Brain Candy: Science, Paradoxes, Puzzles, Logic, and Illogic to Nourish Your Neurons.