16 September, 2013
The Stanford Prison Experiment
More than four decades ago in 1971 a psychologist by the name of Phillip Zimbardo had organized an experiment that would prove how one could change when put in a different environment. Zimbardo’s aim was to research how becoming a prisoner or prison guard impacts a person. The experiment started by Zimbardo having researchers create a mock prison in Stanford University’s Psychology basement. Next researchers selected 24 year old male undergraduate students who were normally healthy, psychologically and physically. These students were to play the role of either a prisoner or prison guard and these volunteers agreed to participate in the experiment from one to two weeks, while being payed fifteen dollars per day. The big question here was when putting good, healthy people in an evil setting; would their goodness triumph?
The experiment was to be as “real life” always, so the students were chosen randomly to their position as prisoners or prison guards. Prisoners were arrested at their home and the students had no warning when it would happen; then the “prisoners” were taken to the police station. Prison guards were given a khaki uniform, including whistles, handcuffs and dark glasses, so that eye contact with prisoners impossible. Also physical violence was not allowed and the “prisoners” were to be treated as any other criminal. The “prisoners” were fingerprinted, photographed and booked. Then were blindfolded and driven to the university, where Zimbardo was ready to begin observations.
When the prisoners arrived at the prison they were stripped from their clothes and belongings, rid of lice and other organisms and given prison clothes and bedding; then were locked up in their cells. The prisoners were now only referred to by their prison number. Now the guards were taking eight hour shifts each, so there were 3 guards for about 3 prisoners. Within a short time...