When network newsmagazines use hidden cameras, they are usually pursuing child predators, as the “To Catch A Predator” series on “Dateline NBC” has demonstrated. But for the next several weeks, ABC is introducing a new twist on the genre — a social psychology experiment called “What Would You Do?”

The segments, on ABC’s “Primetime,” will have actors creating situations in real-life settings that pose moral dilemmas for the people around them. In a pilot episode, the producers hired two actors to act out a heated argument in a park: a man confronted and pushed a woman to see whether bystanders would react. (In that case, 19 of 192 people intervened.)

New segments will address that treatment of homeless people, parallel parking accidents and female bullies. Bob Lange, a senior producer of “Primetime,” calls the series the “‘Candid Camera’ of character.”

“We use actors to establish a situation that is designed to be provocative,” Mr. Lange explained, describing one scenario in the six-week series. “Let’s say we’re in a small roadside bakery in Texas and there’s a customer who’s a Muslim-American woman and there’s a guy behind the counter. He doesn’t want to serve her because he doesn’t like her traditional Muslim dress. He insults her. We want to see how the customers are going to react. Will they agree with him? Will they defend her? Will they walk out in protest? What will they do?” (MORE)

The “Primetime” episodes will be shown Tuesdays at 10 p.m.


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