The Stanford prison experiment ,led by professor Philip Zimbardo, was aimed at seeing the effect on people on becoming prisoners or prison guards. The idea was to see what happens to people when they are put in relatively ‘evil’ places. Do the people themselves become evil or is there no net effect? The results indicated that in fact people adapt to their role exceptionally well. It was observed that the prison guards became overly tyrannical to the level of sadism. In consequence the prisoners were seen to be under severe stress to the extent that they became crazy or depressed.
24 volunteers were selected that had no psychological problems, health issues or any past crime accounts. They were brought to a mock prison set up in the basement of the Stanford university’s psychology building where they were randomly assigned to be prisoners or guards. 3 prisoners each were given rooms that they had to live in for 24 hours of the day and the guards were given 8 hour shifts to work in. the study was observed upon using cameras and microphones. They study was supposed to last for 14 days but had to be halted after 6 days due to extreme unethical practices in the prison.
The Stanford prison experiment showed us that human beings alter to the situation they are put in. The guards won total control over the prisoners who blindly followed orders. All of this in just 5 days of experimental conditions. Zimbardo said that the prisoners had internalised their roles and thus continued to participate in the experiment on their own will. One example of this is when they introduced themselves to the priest with their serial number rather than their real name. Another example would be of the prison consultant who took on the role of an autocratic head of the parole board. After the experiment was over he was said to be disgusted at the person he had become.
In essence there were two groups... [continues]
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