Stanford Prison Experiment Reflection

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Looking Back on the Stanford Prison Experiment
By: Adrian Gottwein

The Stanford Prison Experiment was an experiment conducted by a psychologist known as Philip Zimbardo. Philip Zimbardo was seeking answers as to how people (he selected college students) would act under the influence of an imaginary prison situation. What he found would surprise and amaze us even forty years after its conclusion.

The Stanford Prison Experiment was carried out by psychologically healthy college students chosen by Philip Zimbardo to assume their randomly selected roles as either a guard or a prisoner in a mock prison situation located at the basement of Stanford University. As expected, the students took over their roles quite reluctantly and with some hesitation. The ones who would become guards assumed they would be nice to the prisoners. They actually acted out their actions in a shockingly aggressive way that even shocked them after the experiment came to an end. The mock prisoners had rebellions, and one certain prisoner, prisoner 8612 actually went insane and had to leave early. The experiment was supposed to last approximately two weeks, but it was cut short after six days since Zimbardo realized it was clearly getting out of hand. Controversy came to as whether Zimbardo got caught up in the experiment and didn’t end it soon enough, or if he did the right thing and waited until the last possible minute.

Personally, I feel as though Zimbardo had no idea that the students would assume their roles with such power and that they would carry it out to the extent that it was carried out to. The college students were aware of the possible consequences caused by this experiment, and they went in with knowledge of many possibilities at hand. Nothing should happen to Zimbardo in the sense that people believe that he should be punished for what happened. The fact of the matter is, is that it was an experiment, and experiments tend to get out of hand and fail. The...
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