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1. How did the police procedures used during arrests lead pe

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rosie whitley

on 28 April 2014

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Transcript of 1. How did the police procedures used during arrests lead pe

1. How did the police procedures used during arrests lead people to feel confused, fearful, and dehumanized?
How did the police procedures used during arrests lead people to feel confused, fearful, and dehumanized?
The police arrived to arrest the ‘suspects’ a bit as a surprise and they made the arrests as if it were real and not part of an experiment. Immediately the volunteers were cast into their new roles. The police used other tactics such as standardized uniforms and mirror sunglasses to add to the prisoners’ fear. The prisoners were stripped and sprayed with a cleaner chemical which humiliated them right from the start. The entire booking and arrest process was set up to make the prisoners feel less like humans and more like objects or animals.

3. What prevented "good guards" from objecting or countermanding the orders from tough or bad guards? In comparison to Milgram’s study, why do we conform easily to perceived authority figures?
The bad guards were all very authoritative in their personality pretesting. Meanwhile the “good guards” were less authoritative and more easily accepted the commands of the leading guards. In Milgram’s experiment, he studied the prisoner guards’ of WWII reasoning for how they treated their prisoners. Most of the guards stated that they were just following orders from superiors. The superiors from WWII had a higher level of authority in their personality similar to the leaders of the Stanford prison experiment.
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 tend to be very emotional so I am not sure if I would have been able to keep myself under control during an experiment like this. I would repeatedly tell myself in the beginning to remember that it is only an experiment but everyone finds themselves lost in a situation. I think that as time went on, hours of playing the role of a prisoner, I probably would begin to feel like one. I think that I would be very similar to the other prisoners. I'd walk in there cool and collected with the knowledge that this was just a test but lose my sense of reality. To be very short and concise: I am not cut out for a prison. I do not have a strong mentality that would pull me through that experience. I'd end up going insane with distress and grief.
2. In the debriefing, many of the guards exemplified cognitive dissonance. In fact, one said he was running his own little experiment and that is why he was so mean. Explain cognitive dissonance and why the guards would be demonstrating this. If you were a guard, what type of guard would you have become? How sure are you?
In the debriefing, many of the guards exemplified cognitive dissonance. In fact, one said he was running his own little experiment and that is why he was so mean. Explain cognitive dissonance and why the guards would be demonstrating this. If you were a guard, what type of guard would you have become? How sure are you?
Cognitive dissonance happens when a person exhibits two contradicting beliefs at the same time. The individual may have a certain belief but acts in the opposite manner which causes distress to the person. In the guards’ case, many of the guards had moralistic beliefs and wouldn’t have usually acted in the way that they did but performed their guard duties harshly or immorally when put in the superior position. If I were a guard, I’d hope to be one of the better guards, who didn’t punish or abuse the prisoners; however, it is hard to say because power and superiority such as in this experiment can cause a person to conform to their role, and as they observed in 1971, people can lose track of reality. My hope would only be to hang on to what is real life rather than the role-playing in the experiment. So honestly I am not sure what type of guard I would be.

5. Given what we have discussed on ethics, was it ethical to do this study? Was it right to trade the suffering experienced by participants for the knowledge gained by the research?
I think that in the beginning, this study was ethical. The researchers waned the volunteers and told them a great deal of what the study was. Although the researchers expected some of the civil rights to be violated (because we know in real prisons some are) I do not think they expected the level of abuse and suffering that they observed. It seems that a lot of the experiment did not go according to plan and if the researchers had a greater regard for morality, the experiment probably wouldn't have lasted even 6 days. The experimenters were too fascinated by the changes in behavior of the participants to call off the study. In the end I think that the experiment was okay. I don't think it was a fair trade, knowledge for suffering, but I don't think that the participants had too many lasting effects and were able to overcome any psychological problems thereafter.
The Stanford Prison Eperiment
6. If you were the experimenter in charge, would you have done this study? Would you have terminated it earlier? Is there any other scenario that could have been set up that won’t have turned out the way this study did?
I like to think I have a good moral conscious. If I were studying this particular behavior and I thought this experiment would benefit my research, with careful planning I would have done the study. As long as it seemed beneficial and ethical to participants. If I were observing the study and saw that it was getting out of hand I would hope that I would have the morality to shut it down before it was too much. I think that six days might have been even too long and it would have been better to stop it a few days earlier. I think in order to get the results that the researchers wanted, the prison needed to end up as a harsh out of control system. I honestly believe that the researchers wanted and expected the participants to act like they did. I don't think there was much else to do about the experiment because any limits or guidelines for the guards or any outlines for prisoners would have hindered the true behaviors of the participants.
Bristin Whitley
AP Psychology
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