PSY 102: Psychology in the Modern World
Subject Pool Paper Unit 1 : Zimbardo’s Simulated Prison
The Stanford prison experiment was the study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. Psychologist Philip Zimbardo led a group of researchers to conduct an experiment. An ad was sent out asking for male volunteers to study the psychological effects of prison life. Those who participated in this would earn $15 per day for two weeks. Out of the 70 applicants, 24 were chosen. Psychological tests were done on the applicants. For this experiment, a prison was “made” using the basement of the psychology building at Stanford. The participants were randomly divided into two groups, 9 guards and 9 prisoners (the others were on call). Cameras and intercom systems were placed in the mock prison. They wanted to see what happens when you get power, what happens when you are stripped of it, etc.
There wasn’t a control group in this experimental study. The “to be” prisoners were charged and arrested in their home on a Sunday and taken to the police station where they were taken fingerprints of. They were bought to the mock prison where the warden talked to them about the seriousness of their crime. They were searched, stripped naked and sprayed with a deodorant spray (to make the prisoners think that they were unclean and were being cleaned). The purpose of this was to humiliate/emasculate the prisoners as soon as they entered the prison. The prisoners all wore “smocks” with individual numbers and caps to make them all similar and to take away their uniqueness. They did not wear anything under the smocks and had a chain on their ankle that was to be worn at all times in the prison. The guards wore khakis, had batons, whistles and reflective sunglasses. The guards were not given explicit instructions as to what their jobs were in this experiment, except that there wasn’t to be any physical abuse or homosexual acts....