Stanford Prison Study

6 June 2017

This experiment helped psychologists to better understand conformity and human nature. The objective was to watch the interaction between the two groups of men without an obviously malevolent authority. Description The study took place in the basement of Stanford University by a small group of researchers during the summer or 1971. These researches were led by a man named Philip Zimbardo. 24 male students out of more than 70 applicants were chosen to be a part of the study.

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They would each earn 15 dollars a day to participate for 2 weeks (roughly equivalent to $85 in 2012). They each got randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison located in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The mock prison was basically a stimulated prison. It consisted of three 6 foot by 9 foot cells, and a 2 foot by 2 foot room with no windows that was known as the black box. Each cell had 3 prisoners, and they were punished by being put in the black box.

The men who participated adapted to their roles extremely well ased on Zimbardo’s expectations, as the guards demanded some of the prisoners to psychological torture. Many prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse and listened to the all of what the guards would say. Some would willingly harass any of the other prisoners who even attempted to prevent the abuse. Researchers were exploring the destructive behavior of men towards each other over a period of time. The results of this study were shocking. Discussion The outcomes of the Stanford Prison study were outrageous; such was the abuse towards the prisoners in the experiment.

The study turned out so bad, that it was dismissed after only 6 days. Parents were threatening to get a lawyer to get their son out of the study, and they also began to realize that the guards were enhancing their abuse to the prisoners in the middle of the night when no one was watching. Because of this harsh treatment by the guards, the prisoners were developing large amounts of depression and stress and 5 prisoners had to be sent home. Zimbardo helped to make a conformity bias where the focus on obedience is so strong as to unclear evidence of struggling and disobeying.

However, their arguments proved powerful because they seemed to merge with a real-world example. “People descend into tyranny’ Zimbardo suggested, “because they conform unthinkingly to the toxic roles that authorities prescribe without the need for specific orders: brutality was “a ‘natural’ consequence of being in the uniform of a ‘guard’ and asserting the power inherent in that role. ” The study shows that cruelty is a natural and unavoidable consequence of the motivation of humans to do exactly what authority says, whoever it is and whatever they want us to do.

Personal reflection I believe that Zimbardo had a good idea originally, but his plans were not thought out completely. I don’t think there is any way that you can give that much authority to someone without rules and not expect them to abuse it like the participants did. In my opinion, it was a good idea to end the case early because of the harsh treatment towards the prisoners. It caused them so much depression, only for getting 15 dollars a day They did nothing wrong to get treated like think it was an awtul way to do this experiment.

It was a big sigh of relief to men when I was reading about the experiment that the study ended early. Conclusion The Stanford Prison study played a huge role in the study of psychology. The results of the experiment have been argued to prove the impressionability and the obedience of people when provided with an “official” person of authority. The experiment has also been used to demonstrate mental dissonance theory and the power that authority has on people. This experiment showed that the situation, instead of their individual personalities, caused the participants’ behavior.

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