The Stanford Prison Experiment

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Philip Zimbardo, Experiment Pages: 3 (1004 words) Published: September 23, 2012
The Stanford Prison Experiment
The stanford prison experiment is one of the infamous experiments conducted in the history of psychology. The experiment was conducted at Stanford University in August, 1971 by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. The basic premise was to find out and determine what happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? Does the system that we inhabit and are a part of start to control our behaviour or our inner morality and values continue to direct it? It was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or a prison guard. To carry out this experiment, a subterranean jail was set up in the psychology department building. Adverts were placed in local newspapers offering $15 per day for participants in this program. Of the 75 responses, the 24 male subjects judged to be most mentally and emotionally stable were selected. Those 24 were then divided into two groups randomly, of 12 prisoners and 12 guards. The group selected to be the guards were outfitted in ‘military-style’ intimidating uniforms. They were also equipped with wooden batons and mirrored shades, to prevent eye-contact and make the guards appear less human. The researchers held an orientation session for guards the day before the experiment, during which they instructed them not to physically harm the prisoners. In the footage of the study, Zimbardo can be seen talking to the guards: "You can create in the prisoners feelings of boredom, a sense of fear to some degree, you can create a notion of arbitrariness that their life is totally controlled by us, by the system, you, me, and they'll have no privacy... We're going to take away their individuality in various ways. In general what all this leads to is a sense of powerlessness. That is, in this situation we'll have all the power and they'll have none." The prisoners were instructed to wait at home "to be called" for the start of...
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