Stanford Prison Experiment

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  • Topic: Prison, Stanford prison experiment, Criminal justice
  • Pages : 2 (626 words )
  • Download(s) : 1310
  • Published : March 23, 2009
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In August of 1971, a group of researchers, headed by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, at Stanford University, set out to learn just how prison affects a person psychologically. The results of this experiment were shocking, to say the least, and led that team of researchers, and many others, to question just how bad the prison systems of America really are. The results of this experiment were far more devastating and shocking than anyone involved had imagined. Those involved had forgotten they were playing a role. The prisoners were "behaving in pathological ways" and no longer realized that they were free to quit at anytime (Zimbardo, 2006). The guards had either become sadistic or allowed the behavior, believing that they were unable to do anything about it; and as previously stated, even the researchers playing a role had begun to lose their grip on reality (Zimbardo, 2006). This experiment showed just how detrimental inhumane prison conditions were to the health of everyone in the prison system from Super-Intendents to guards and prisoners. Even "good" people can be beaten down by conditions, such as those simulated in the experiment, to a point where they are no longer sure of their own identity. If anything, this experiment should have taught players in the criminal justice system just how desperately prison reform is needed. Sadly, conditions such as these continue to persist and have even been the cause of recent controversy as seen in the instances of Abu Ghrab and Guantanamo Bay prisons. Should such extreme measures be taken simply to answer a scientific question; just how far is too far; and, should the participants be reminded throughout the experiment that they are free to leave at any time, are the questions that swam repeatedly through my mind while reading about this experiment. To me, the answer seems simple. One has went too far for the sake of knowledge when participants begin to lose touch with reality and no longer realize who they are and that they...
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