Lucifer Effect Refective Essay

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Milgram experiment, Philip Zimbardo Pages: 2 (784 words) Published: June 15, 2012
What happens when you put good people in an evil place? The Stanford Prison Experiment set out to find out by taking highly screened participants, all of which would be considered ‘good’ by normal society standards and assigning them to roles of either prisoner or guard by the flip of a coin. They placed them in a mock prison that would quickly turn into an evil place. By only the second day of a would-be two week experiment the behavior changes began to emerge in both prisoners and guards. Detainees started to rebel against the authority and those in positions of power started exploiting it. Guards started showing more and more aggression towards the prisoners and within just a more few days the behavior morphed into what could only be described as sadistic pleasure in abuse. The research project was then shut down early and is now deemed one of the most ethically questionable research studies done in psychological history. According to The Lucifer Effect theory, the guards who committed atrocities against the prisoners were not inherently bad but they were corrupted by their role of power. The thesis is that there is actually no such thing as good or evil, human behavior is under situational control at all times. An interesting thing about the guards that instigated the violence against prisoners in the SPE is that it began with a small ring of alpha males who happened to be the tallest of the group. Upon watching their recounts of the experiments, one notices that these leaders seem almost proud of their actions and seem to take relief in blaming the power structure as an excuse for their actions. Further, Zimbardo seems to explain away unethical nature of his experiment with this theory as well. Zimbardo’s experiment resurfaced into public light after parallels were drawn between his findings and what occurred with Abu Gharib’s prisoners of war. He has since gained a fair amount of fame from his findings and has begun to explain other human...
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