Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment
Aim: To investigate how readily people would conform to the roles of guard and prisoner. Participants:
21 males from over 70 volunteers were chosen and paid $15 for each day. Students were randomly assigned to play a different role.
Zimbardo converted the basement of the Stanford Psychology building into a mock prison. Advertised for students to play either a role of prison guard or prisoner for 2 weeks. Guards were also issued a khaki uniform, together with whistles, handcuffs and dark glasses, to make eye contact with prisoners impossible. When the prisoners arrived at the prison they were stripped naked, deloused, had all their personal possessions removed and locked away. The prisoners were referred by their number only.
There were 3 guards to the 9 prisoners, taking shifts of eight hours each. Results:
The guards adapted to their role quickly and easily. They began to harass the prisoners and behaved in a brutal and sadistic manner, it also looked like they were enjoying it. The prisoners were insulted and given petty orders, they were also given pointless and boring tasks to complete, and they were generally dehumanised. The prisoners were soon adopted to the environment and started to take the prison rules very seriously. Over the next few days, the prisoners changed their attitude towards the guards and became dependent on them. They also submissively behaved in the prison while the guards became more aggressive with a demand of greater obedience from the prisoners. Within a few days into the experiment, 4 participants withdrew after showing signs of emotional disorder and could have had lasting consequences. Zimbardo closed down the experiment after running for 6 days. Conclusion:
People will readily conform to the social roles they are expected to play, especially if the roles are as strongly stereotyped. Therefore, the roles that people play can shape their behaviour and attitudes. Ethical...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document