Stamford Prison Experiment

Topics: Prison, Life imprisonment, Emotion Pages: 6 (2161 words) Published: November 19, 2011
1. What police procedures are used during arrests, and how do these procedures lead people to feel confused, fearful, and dehumanized?
The police used the art of surprise coupled with a lack of information during arrests. The shock of the abruptness of the arrests, public embarrassment, as well as being arrested at random times (especially in broad daylight) could all be labeled as contributing factors that would lead the people to feel confused, fearful and dehumanized. The behavior of the “prison staff” (informing the prisoners of their “serious offenses” and showering them to remove their germs and lice) could certainly without a doubt cause the detainees to feel embarrassed and confused. Not only would this be degrading for them, it would also serve as a catalyst for psychological change. It would be at this time that the new inmates begin to really feel as though they have done something to deserve this kind of treatment. The prison attire the inmates had to wear was also part of this psychological catalyst. It probably left the inmates feeling very anonymous and inhuman. 2. If you were a guard, what type of guard would you have become? How sure are you? If I were a guard I am sure that I would have been as nice as possible to the inmates. I would have done this so that I would have garnered their respect in order to avoid any conflict. 3. What prevented "good guards" from objecting or countermanding the orders from tough or bad guards?

I feel that not wanting to feel alienated or be blamed for creating a sense of derision between the “bad guards” was what kept the good guards from objecting to their actions. Because of their desire to want to feel unified with the other guards they never spoke out about their actions for fear of possibly being treated like the prisoners. 4. If you were a prisoner, would you have been able to endure the experience? What would you have done differently than those subjects did? If you were imprisoned in a "real" prison for five years or more, could you take it?

I do not think I would have been able to handle being in the experimental prison, or a real one. I would have kept more to myself in the experimental prison and not formed any ties with any of the other prisoners. I would have been more self-reliant and compliant with the demands of the guards. As for the real prison, due to the emotional and psychological impact it would have on me, I don’t think I would survive five years. I would most likely attempt suicide if anything. 5. Why did our prisoners try to work within the arbitrary prison system to effect a change in it (e.g., setting up a Grievance Committee), rather than trying to dismantle or change the system through outside help?

I think the prisoners did this with the hopes of establishing some form of alliance and cooperation from the prison staff. I think that they feel that if they could do this from an early stage, things would be easier for them. They knew that trying to reform the prison system with outside influences would only be viewed as a threat by the prison staff

6. What factors would lead prisoners to attribute guard brutality to the guards' disposition or character, rather than to the situation?
The initial humiliation coupled with the ongoing abuse would cause the prisoners to act like this. Due to the slight alterations made in the prisoners thinking, they would no longer think rationally; their surroundings would no longer be a “blame factor”. Instead, they would attack those who are doing nothing to extenuate the current circumstances and are only adding to the prisoner’s stress. 7. What is "reality" in a prison setting? This study is one in which an illusion of imprisonment was created, but when do illusions become real? Contrast consensual reality and physical or biological reality, and explain the implications of the following poem (by PGZ):

Within the illusion of life,
Death is the only reality,...
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