Ethics of Zimbardo Prison Experiment

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Ethics of Zimbardo Prison Experiment

By | Jan. 2009
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In 1971 Phillip Zimbardo conducted a controversial study know as the Stanford prison experiment. The experiment was a psychological study of human reactions to being imprisoned and how the effects would interfere with the normal behaviors of both authorities and the inmates in prison. Zimbardo and his team hypothesized “that prison guards and convicts were self selecting of a certain disposition that would naturally lead to poor conditions.” Zimbardo used undergraduate volunteers to play the roles of the guards and the prisoners in a mock prison he created in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. He then recorded how both the prisoners and guards quickly adapted to their roles, and soon this lead to one-third of the authorities taking place in sadistic acts towards the prisoners, which was argued to have lead to psychologically harmful situations. Due to the appalling conditions of the prison, both sanitarily and psychologically the experiment ended on August 30, 1971 just six days after it began, which was eight days short of the foresighted fourteen days it was supposed to have lasted. Many similarities in the ethical concerns of the Stanford experiment were found in the Milgram experiment which was conducted in 1961 by Stanley Milgram one of Zimbardo’s high school friends. In order to help find a large quantity of participants Zimbardo and his team sent out a newspaper ad offering fifteen dollars a day for a sum of fourteen days totaling in $210.00 for the full two weeks. Figuring in inflation that would be $77 a day and $1,078 for the full two weeks. According to section A of ADA ethics code 8.06:

“Psychologists make reasonable efforts to avoid offering or inappropriate financial or other inducements for research participation when such inducements are likely to coerce participation.” Concluding from this statement Zimbardo broke 8.06 of the ADA ethics code by offering the participants a large amount of money and did not make any known...
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