Zimbardo Prison Experiment

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by maisylister
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Zimbardo Prison Experiment

In conclusion this experiment showed that the behaviour of normal, well-educated men can be significantly adjusted when a role they are given involves considerable power and status.

Participants selected as prisoners were arrested at their homes by real police, where they were searched, fingerprinted and charged with commiting an offence. They were then taken to the 'mock' prison- which was at Stanford University, where they were stripped naked, skinsearched, sprayed for healice and issues with a uniform. The prisoners were placed in 2X3m cells with 2 others. The guards were given a uniform, reflective glasses and a club. The guards were not allowed to physically assult the prisoners, but other than that had alot of freedom. All of this was used to show how status and power inflicts behaviour.

Zimbardo Prison Experiment

The aim of this experiment was to provide valuable insight into the effects of status and power on individual behaviour, by using roleplay as a prison guard or prisoner.

It is hypothesised that male university participants who are roleplaying as guards will show dominative, powerful and coercive, whilst participants who play as prisoners will become withdrawn and timid.

Participants and how they were selected



It took them all only a day to adapt to their new unfamiliar roles. The prisoners became increasingly traumatised, passive and dehumanised. Four prisoners had to be released during the first 4 days because of reactions such as rage, hysterical crying, confusion, severe anxiety and depression. The experiment had been planned to go for two weeks, but was terminated after 6 days because it was getting out of control. Every aspect of the prisoners behaviour fell under the total and arbitary control of the guards.IV- The roles they were givenDV- Their behaviour

Results obtained



An ad in the locat newspaper invited the male participants. 70 students from Stanford University replied to the advertisment. Each of them were interveiwed and given psychological tests. 24 of them were judged to be 'normal, average and healthy' and 18 of them were selected as participants, and the other 6 were on stand-by.

Limitations/ criticisms-Zimbardo should've had someone else overlooking the experiment, instead of himself, who was also the superintendent-It was planned to go for two weeks and stopped stopped at 6 days.

Key ethical issues -People suffered and others were allowed to inflict pain and humiliate their fellows over an extended period of time.-Beneficience.

By Maisy Lister


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