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Unit 4: Stanford Prison Experiment
David E. Robinson
CJ 490-05, Research Methods in Criminal Justice
Professor Jerry Lulejian
November 13, 2010

Maxfield and Babbie in their book Basic of Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology explain the purpose of the Stanford Prison Experiment was to test the situational hypothesis of the prison environment itself. Maxfield and Babbie state, “…the prison environment creates dehumanizing conditions independent of the kinds of people who live and work in the institutions (Maxfield and Babbie, p. 43. 2009).” The experiment took on an exploratory design, which indicates the specific problem had not been clearly defined (Maxfield & Babbie, 2009). Zimbardo himself could only compare experiments of this nature to his high school friend, Milgram who conducted research on obedience to authority figures as related to the Holocaust. Exploratory research is begun to explore an issued regarding society to answer of the questions needed to conduct further studies. To this date the Stanford Prison Experiment has not be replicated exactly in any series of further on experiments related to the outcome of the original. The experiment was created by Curtis Haney, Craig Banks, and Philip Zimbardo (1973) in the basement of the Stanford University psychology department building where the “prison” was constructed. The “prison” consisted of cells, a “yard”, and a solitary confinement cell. An ad was placed in a newspaper and 75 volunteers answered the call but only twenty-one were chosen. The subjects with physical or psychological problems were vetted and those left were offered $15.00 a day to participate. The left over subjects were randomly assigned to be either guards or prisoners (Babbie & Maxfield, 2009). In the academia world there have been those that have questioned the ethics of the experiment. The experiment was ethical and unethical in certain ways (Blass, 2000). The experiment was put before the...
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