Discuss the impact and ethical status of Milgram’s studies on conformity AND Zimbardo’s prison experiment. Do the findings of studies like these justify their methods?
In my essay I will attempt to outline Milgram’s study on conformity and Zimbardo’s prison experiment. I will also be drawing out the impact that was left with the participants after the experiment and the ethical issues that these studies face with.
In the study of Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment (1971) twenty four emotionally and physically healthy males was involved in an experiment that wanted to find the relationship of a prisoner and the prison guard. The participants were randomly assigned to take on roles of either the prisoner or prison guards. They were not told how to behave they were just given their role.
The experiment began with the arrest by the local police. The participants who played the prisoners were handcuffed and taken to the police station. From there they were handcuffed and also blindfolded. On arrival at the prison they were stripped naked, searched again, had a chain placed around one of their ankles, and was also given prison clothes and had new identities which were referred by prison numbers. The prison guards wore standard uniform and were given whistles, handcuffs, and keys.
Their results were that participants who played the role of the prison guards showed sadistic roles. The guards became quite abusive and aggressive towards their prisoners whereas the prisoners became passive and slowly loss all sense of identity. When the prisoners wouldn’t obey to rules the prison guards would punish the prisoners with serious consequences such as severe push ups and so on.
The main criticism of Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment is on ethical grounds. The study showed that participants were not protected from harm. After thirty six hours one prisoner had to be released because he was showing signs of being affected by the experience....