The Lucifer Effect

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Philip Zimbardo, Milgram experiment Pages: 3 (913 words) Published: March 9, 2009
Devil within

Sometimes we wonder why people do things. Is it because they were forced to? Maybe they were pressured into it, or maybe they thought it was the right thing to do. In the book The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo he studies the psychological motives of humans and situational personalities. Zimbardo produced an experiment called the “Stanford prison experiment” which put one group of students as guards and another as the prisoners. The main point of the experiment was to watch the prisoners and see how they reacted to being detained; however, when the experiment was conducted it was the guards who were more interesting to study.

When looking at the students who were selected to be guards they were no different from the students who were selected to be the prisoners. Yet, when they were put in positions of power they began to form to the roll of a guard. They treated the “prisoners” as if they were actually prisoners. Verbal abuse was a reoccurring event in the prison and it began to demoralize all of the prisoners. The mock prison gained the atmosphere of an actual prison over time.

The guard’s goal was to dehumanize and deindividualize the prisoners so that they could control them any way they pleased. By taking away their individuality there was a much lower chance of outbreaks or uprisings. They did this by making the prisoners do push-ups or other meaningless tasks as punishment. In the beginning of the experiment the prisoners did not give in and they would barricade themselves inside of their cell and cause problems. This was solved by simple punishments that eventually broke the prisoners and created them into one group. Even when a new prisoner was brought in and he stood up to the guards the veterans would not, because they did not want the punishment brought upon them.

When the guards met the day before the experiment was to start it was agreed that no violence was to be used. So the guards needed another way to punish the...
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