Zimbardo Prison Experiment

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The Stanford Prison Experiment harbored interest concerning the psychological effects that would be exhibited from normal people when put into simulation prison. Stanford Prison experiment had elements of social structure of a real-life prison. Zimbardo himself held “ultimate” master status as the warden. Participants were selected by Zimbardo for the experiment. Participants held achieved - master status of prison guards and another group of male students were portraying inmates in the study. The social interaction in the experiment had extreme psychological effects on the participants in the experiment. Both guards and inmates conformed to the expectation of their social role. Originally the Stanford Prison Experiment was planned for two-week research study. The experiment ended prematurely after six days because the students became so absorbed into their roles. The roles the subjects played believed they actually were those roles. The guards adopted sadistic abusive attitudes. Authority and power over another person went to extreme measures in some subjects. The group selected to portray inmates became discouraged and rebellious. These subjects felt guilty, people staring at them, being in police car, being in a police station. Riding in a police car, and the process of arrest created guilt in their minds. Even though they knew no crime was committed going through the arrest process created distress. The subjects playing inmates believed they could not leave the experiment. These boys were having trouble with their identity in this experiment. Inmate subjects were really not able to adapt in this social structure. They did not possess the life skills a real criminal has in his personality.
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