The Stanford Prison Experiment

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One of the most interesting studies made in history was led by Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist and a former classmate of Stanley Milgram (who was famous for his Milgram experiment). He sought to expand on Milgram’s experiment about impacts of situational variables on human behavior by simulating a prison environment, in which volunteering students were randomly assigned as prisoners or prison guards. Many controversies have been elicited from this experiment, and it was with a documentary of the experiment that Martyn Shuttleworth based off his article about the Stanford Prison Experiment. In 1971, Zimbardo started an experiment that would question the ethic morality of the science-sphere forever. "Only a few people were able to resist the situational temptations to yield to power and dominance while maintaining some semblance of morality and decency; obviously I was not among that noble class," Zimbardo later wrote in his book The Lucifer Effect. Without graduate student Christina Maslach’s voiced objections to the conditions in the simulated prison and the morality of continuing the experiment, there would have been a high probability that conditions would have worsened even more than it already had - the guards would have progressively increased their abusive and aggressive behavior towards the prisoners, whilst the prisoners would have progressively became more passive and depressed. Five of the prisoners began to experience such severe negative emotions - including crying and acute anxiety - that they had to be released from the study early. What this experiment portrayed was that the situation that a person is put in can strongly impact the way that they behave. For example, Zimbardo himself forgot his identity of a scientist for a moment, and was thinking in the way that a prison ward would think. Only when a fellow scientist questioned the variables of this experiment did Zimbardo realize that he had only considered the...
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