The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment was a psychological study of human responses to captivity and its behavioral effects on both authorities and inmates in prison. It was conducted in 1971 by a team of psychologists led by Philip Zimbardo. Undergraduate volunteers played the roles of both guards and prisoners living in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The experiment was intended to last two weeks but was cut short due to the rapid and alarming results it had received.
The Participants/ Setting/ Procedures of the Study
The Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted in the basement of the Psychology Department of Stanford University. The basement was turned into a mock jail by the research team led by Philip Zimbardo. Zimbardo hoped by setting up certain conditions within the jail it would further promote “depersonalization, disorientation, and individualization” (statemaster.com). Twenty-one people were selected by Zimbardo and his team because they felt that they were the most psychologically stable. The participants in this study where mostly white, middle class males. The participants were then split into two groups: the guards and the prisoners. The research team provided the guards with a baton and uniform to simulate guards at a real prison. They were also given sunglasses so no direct eye contact could be made with prisoners. The guards worked in shifts and were allowed to return home after their shift was over. Surprisingly, many guards volunteered to take extra shifts. Before the study was conducted, Zimbardo gave a brief orientation stating that the guards could run the prison however they wanted but no physical harm could be done to the prisoners. However the guards were allowed to break the prisoners down mentally and emotionally. On the opposite side of the law, the participants who represented the prisoners were arrested from their homes at a random time and brought down to the Palo...
References: • Cherry, K. (n.d.). The Stanford Prison Experiment - Overview of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Psychology - Complete Guide to Psychology for Students, Educators & Enthusiasts. Retrieved August 17, 2013, from http://psychology.about.com/od/classicpsychologystudies/a/stanford-prison-experiment.htm
• McLeod, S. (n.d.). Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment - Simply Psychology.Simply Psychology - Articles for Students. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/zimbardo
• StateMaster - Encyclopedia: Stanford prison experiment. (n.d.). StateMaster - US Statistics, State Comparisons. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Stanford-prison-experiment
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