[2015] Samantha Delaney (Unit 1/2 Psychology 2015): Zimbardo Prison Experiment

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[2015] Samantha Delaney (Unit 1/2 Psychology 2015): Zimbardo Prison Experiment

AIMThe aim was to find out the pyschological effects of being either a prison guard or prisoner.HypothesisIt is hypothesised that placing mentally healthy males inconflicting positionions of status (Guards and Prisoners) will change their behaviour to fit their roles.ParticipantsThere were 9 prisoners and 9 guards with another 6 prisoners/guards on call. They were selected out of 70 people who applied for an ad in the newspaper.Experimental Conditions/Key VariablesThe prisoners were arrested at their homes and taken to the police station where they were finger printed, searched and charged for an offence. They were then taken to the mock prison where they were stripped and sprayed for lice. They were then placed in cells with 2 other prisoners and comanded to call the guards Mr Correctional Officer. The guards were given reflective aviator sunglasses, khaki uniforms, clubs and whistles and had to keep the prisoners in check. The Independant Varable was the role the participants were given and the Dependant Variable was their behaviour.The Main ResultsOn the second day there was a rebellion by the prisoners which the guards promptly stopped. The guards steadily increased their coercive and aggresive tactics, humiliation and dehumanisation of the prisoners. They used power to make the prisoners smile, laugh or refrain from smiling of laughing on command for no apparent reason. They encouraged fighting amoung prisoners and made them do things like clean the toilet with their bare hands. The prisoners became increasingly traumatised, passive and dehumanised. Four of the prisoners had to be released during the first four days because of reactions such as rage, hysterical crying, confusion, severe anxiety and deppression. The experiment had been plaanned to go for 2 weeks but had to be terminated after six days.ConclusionThe results of the experiment showed that the behaviour of normal, well educated men can be affected when a role they are given involves considerable power and status

Zimbardo Prison Experiment

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Two LimitationsZimbardo was both an observer of the experiment and head guard. The experiment only went for 6 days instead of the planned 2 weeks.Key Ethical IssuesPeople suffered and others were allowed to inflect pain and humiliation ontheir fellows over an extended period of time.

Status and Power

Samantha Delaney


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