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The Stanford Prison Experiment
Transcript of The Stanford Prison Experiment
University from August 14
to August 20 of 1971.
Funded by the U.S Office of
Naval Research, it was to be
a study of the psychological
effects of becoming either a
prisoner or a prison guard. The Mastermind At the head of the operation was psychology
professor Philip George Zimbardo. Along
with a team of researchers, Zimbardo
oversaw the entire experiment acting as the
prison's 'warden'of sorts. From behind
closed doors, he monitored the prisoners through cameras and reviewed each piece
of footage carefully. What he found was far more shocking than what anyone was expecting. Being A Guard Being A Prisoner After being 'arrested' and taken to the prison testing facility the prisoners were stripped, searched, shaved and deloused. They were then issued identical uniforms and unique ID numbers and escorted to their cells by the prison guards. The same cells where they were to spend the next two
weeks. All prisoners were expected to follow a set of rules constructed by
Zimbardo and the guards. Such rules included
remaining silent during rest periods, eating during
meal times, keeping prison cells clean etc. All
prisoners were to be told that they could opt out
and discontinue the experiment and at any time
and leave 'through established procedures.' So What Happened? To put it simply – things got out of hand and even that would be an understatement
•The guards adapted to their roles far better than expected
•Even Zimbardo himself adapted a ‘prison warden’ mindset
•After only 36 hours one prisoner went ‘crazy’ and had to be escorted out
•Guards took away basic human needs
•one third of the guards were said to have exhibited ‘genuine sadistic tendencies’ towards prisoners
•The experiment was brought to an end six days after it began
eight days before it was supposed to end What was the Stanford Prison Experiment? The Experiment The rules of the experiment were as followed: Out of 75 or so volunteers, 24 clinically sane individuals were to be tested and then randomly assigned roles of either prisoner or guard in a mock prison environment located in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford. The volunteers were
aware that they were part of a study but they
were not to be made aware of when the study
was to actually begin. They were then to be
randomly arrested in their own houses and
taken to the mock prison. They were even
charged with crimes, with the first five
prisoners being charged with burglary and the
last four being charged with armed robbery. One of the prisoners recounting his experience while being arrested After arresting and escorting the prisoners to the facility, guards were to begin their assigned duties. Where the prisoners remained in the prison 24 hours a day, the guards operated on three rotating eight hour shifts. This
ensured that there were always at least three guards
present to guard the nine prisoners at all times. They
were given no special formal training, save for a brief
orientation telling them to maintain law and order,
avoid physical violence and prevent prisoner escapes.
They were provided with clothing similar to those of
an actual prison guard, mirrored sunglasses (which
they were to use to avoid eye contact with prisoners),
and wooden batons with which to establish their
status. Just like the prisoners the guards could choose
to end the experiment at any time they wished. So what did The Stanford Prison Experiment show us?
It showed the powerful role that situations can play on human behavior. The participants in the experiment were thrust into situations that they would otherwise most like not find themselves in and they reacted to those situations accordingly and then drastically. Because the guards were put into a position of power they began to react in ways that they normally wouldn't behave. The same goes for the prisoners, who found themselves in a depressed state when put in a situtation where they had no control. Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment