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In another attempt to gain extra credit -- and thus a greater chance of escaping Greendale -- Annie manages to secure a place in Professor Duncan's experiment, in which the "Duncan Principle" is to be tested, by convincing Troy and Abed to volunteer to be test subjects. However, this leads to unforeseen factors the researchers did not anticipate, which ends up making it unclear who are the real test subjects.
Jeff and Shirley begin to bond over a recently-discovered mutual shared interest -- making fun of Britta's new boyfriend, Vaughn. However, their mutual passion for gossip about him will end up creating rifts in their friendship group.
The Community episode "Social Psychology" provides examples of:
- Berserk Button: Upon being informed that the experiment was going to start late, Chang immediately exploded in a violent, childish temper tantrum, involving throwing furniture and screaming "MOMMY!" Since the purpose of the experiment was to test how long people would put up with being delayed before exploding, and Chang literally didn't last more than a few seconds, his Sitcom Arch Nemesis Professor Duncan was quite pleased:
Duncan: Houston, we have an idiot.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Spanish blackboard is shown with Ken Jeong's Korean name written in bad hangul.
- Erotic Dream: Shirley's last bit of gossip to Jeff is that Britta had a sexy dream about him.
- Fanon Discontinuity: In-universe example, for the Indiana Jones movies.
Annie: I just got the first three because...
Annie and Abed: ... the fourth one blows!
- Giftedly Bad: Vaughn's poetry
- Gossipy Hens: Shirley and Jeff. Troy and Abed in The Tag.
- Hollywood Science: Duncan has a total breakdown when he encounters the outlier of extreme patience that is Abed, ranting that his Duncan's Principle has been completely broken. Of course, one outlier is hardly enough to totally disprove a hypothesis concerning human psychology, but...
- Hot for Teacher: Professor Duncan assumes Annie is hitting on him before she even asks him anything, then immediately rates her an 8 (which is "a British 10"). This, too, was oddly not present in the DVD release.
- Hypocritical Humour: After ranting -- at length -- about a student evaluation feedback card he received, how hurtful and racist it was, and the lengths he went to in order to discover who the evaluator was:
Senor Chang: [To Annie, very very creepily] Who's erratic and unstable now, Princess Gringa? [Kisses her on the forehead]
- Painful Rhyme: Several times in Vaughn's poem.
- Orphaned Punchline: Either Britta heard something more we didn't, or she's just pandering to Vaughn.
Vaughn: I asked politely and the panda took his pants off.
Britta: (exaggerated laughter) I never even knew that's what asexual meant.
- No Control Group: If this had been a real experiment, the subjects should have been isolated from each other. Experiencing previous breakdowns may have influenced the breakdown of later subjects. Of course, neither the professor leading the experiment nor the institution in this case are exactly exemplars of scientific research...
- Professor Guinea Pig: Inadvertent, Prof. Duncan becomes the subject of the Duncan Principle.
- The Rainman: Lampshaded after Abed has managed to sit perfectly still for twenty-six hours waiting in a room simply because Annie asked him to:
Professor Duncan: It's you! It's your fault!
Annie: But... you told me to bring subjects!
Professor Duncan: Yeah, subjects! Not Rain Man!
- Shaped Like Itself: Pierce says that his ear-noculars give him "sonic hearing." As Abed points out, "All hearing is sonic."
- Shout-Out: "Oh my God, my life is Degrassi High!"
- Shipping: This episode was the start of the Annie/Abed pairing in the fandom.
- Spoof Aesop:
Pierce: You see Jeff. There was certain things man was not meant to hear. We were designed, by whatever entity you choose, to hear what's in this range and really this range alone because you know whose talking to us in this range? The people we love.
- The Stoic: Upon being told to just sit and wait, while everyone else around him ends up throwing childish tantrums and storming out, Abed just calmly, without expressing any apparent emotion (as he tells her later, he was actually livid), sits and waits. For twenty-six hours.
Professor Duncan: [Watching video footage of Abed sitting perfectly still, staring into space] ... Is it on pause?!
Annie: Nope. That's just him.
- Super Senses: Ear-nocular.