One of the experiments that are always taught as prime examples of social psychology in action is the Stanford Prison Experiment
In 1971, Zimbardo accepted a tenured position as professor of psychology at Stanford University. With a government grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, he conducted the Stanford prison study in which 24 normal college students were randomly assigned to be "prisoners" or "guards" in a mock prison located in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford (three additional college students were selected as alternates, only one of which participated in the study). The two week planned study into the psychology of prison life ended only after 6 days due to emotional trauma being experienced by the participants. The students quickly began acting out their roles, with "guards" becoming sadistic and "prisoners" showing extreme passivity and depression.
*from the Philip Zimbardo article
I realize there have been scores of scholarly articles written about the subject in the intervening time, but most of the abstracts dealt with the aspects of social psychology that were pertinent even in the last decade with the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.
All of that is painful yet certainly necessary to ponder, but I'm curious about the cognitive aspects of the study. What facets of, for example, motivation does this study (and others like it) bring out? What can be said about our sense of logical reasoning under these circumstances? What sorts of qualia could one use to model this behavior in an agent?