How Roles and Statuses Affect Behavior
There is a fine line between status and role. Status is the position or a rank in a group or social structure. An example of this would be the president, Barack H. Obama. The president is a status because it is a position in a social structure; in this case, Barack H. Obama would be the president of America. On the other hand, a role is an assumed or an expected way a person should behave. For example, a mother is an assumed position where as soon as a female gives birth, they are expected to take care of the child, and thus called “mother.” In Philip G. Zimbardo’s article, “The Pathology Of Imprisonment,” (pg. 140, 2011) Zimbardo wanted to simulate a prison environment and see the psychological and how the roles of the guards and prisoners develop. Zimbardo did this by creating a advertisement in the newspaper and hired two dozen young men who were at first, all on the same playing field; all of them had no criminal record, emotionally stable, normal, and were all intelligent and from middle class families. The important part about this is that the role of prisoner and the role of guard were chosen by the flip of a coin which meant that the roles were completely random and the prison environment would be the only factor in how it shaper the boys behaviors. Throughout the experiment, the boys were videotaped so that Zimbardo could observe the behavior. Very quickly Zimbardo noticed that the guards became more and more aggressive towards the prisoners, and the prisoners reacted exactly how a real prisoner would react. Zimbardo states that the guards came up with many creative ways to control the prisoners. In one case, a rebellious prisoner, who refused to eat, was in solitary, and the rest of the prisoners were given a choice, whether to let the prisoner out and give up their blankets, or keep the blankets and keep the rebellious prisoner in solitary for the night. In the end, it was every man for himself and the rest...
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