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Participants were recruited and told they would participate in a two-week prison simulation. The team selected the 24 males whom they deemed to be the most psychologically stable and healthy.
The prison had two fabricated walls, one at the entrance, and one at the cell wall to block observation. They were given rest and relaxation areas, and other comforts.
Twelve of the 24 participants were assigned the role of prisoner 9 plus 3 alternates , while the other 12 were assigned the role of guard also 9 plus 3 alternates. Zimbardo took on the role of the superintendent, and an undergraduate research assistant the role of the warden. Zimbardo designed the experiment in order to induce disorientation , depersonalization , and deindividuation in the participants.
The researchers held an orientation session for guards the day before the experiment, during which guards were instructed not to physically harm the prisoners or withhold food or drink. In the footage of the study, Zimbardo can be seen talking to the guards: In general what all this leads to is a sense of powerlessness. Prisoners wore uncomfortable, ill-fitting smocks and stocking caps, as well as a chain around one ankle.
Guards were instructed to call prisoners by their assigned numbers, sewn on their uniforms, instead of by name. The prisoners were "arrested" at their homes and "charged" with armed robbery. The local Palo Alto police department assisted Zimbardo with the arrests and conducted full booking procedures on the prisoners, which included fingerprinting and taking mug shots.
The prisoners were transported to the mock prison from the police station, where they were strip searched and given their new identities. The small mock prison cells were set up to hold three prisoners each. There was a small corridor for the prison yard, a closet for solitary confinement, and a bigger room across from the prisoners for the guards and warden. The prisoners were to stay in their cells and the yard all day and night until the end of the study. The guards worked in teams of three for eight-hour shifts.
The guards were not required to stay on site after their shift. Guards from other shifts volunteered to work extra hours, to assist in subduing the revolt, and subsequently attacked the prisoners with fire extinguishers without being supervised by the research staff. Finding that handling nine cell mates with only three guards per shift was challenging, one of the guards suggested they use psychological tactics to control them. They set up a "privilege cell" in which prisoners who were not involved in the riot were treated with special rewards, such as higher quality meals.
The "privileged" inmates chose not to eat the meal in commiseration with their fellow prisoners. After only 36 hours, one prisoner began to act "crazy", as Zimbardo described: It took quite a while before we became convinced that he was really suffering and that we had to release him. Guards soon used these prisoner counts to harass the prisoners, using physical punishment such as protracted exercise for errors in the prisoner count.
As punishment, the guards would not let the prisoners empty the sanitation bucket. Mattresses were a valued item in the prison, so the guards would punish prisoners by removing their mattresses, leaving them to sleep on concrete. Some prisoners were forced to be naked as a method of degradation. Several guards became increasingly cruel as the experiment continued; experimenters reported that approximately one-third of the guards exhibited genuine sadistic tendencies. Most of the guards were upset when the experiment was halted after only six days.
Zimbardo mentions his own absorption in the experiment. On the fourth day, some of the guards stated they heard a rumor that the released prisoner was going to come back with his friends and free the remaining inmates. Zimbardo and the guards disassembled the prison and moved it onto a different floor of the building. Zimbardo himself waited in the basement, in case the released prisoner showed up, and planned to tell him that the experiment had been terminated.
The released prisoner never returned, and the prison was rebuilt in the basement. Zimbardo argued that the prisoners had internalized their roles, since some had stated they would accept "parole" even if it would mean forfeiting their pay, despite the fact that quitting would have achieved the same result without the delay involved in waiting for their parole requests to be granted or denied.
The guards responded with more abuse. When he refused to eat his sausages, saying he was on a hunger strike , guards confined him to " solitary confinement ", a dark closet: Zimbardo aborted the experiment early when Christina Maslach , a graduate student in psychology whom he was dating and later married ,  objected to the conditions of the prison after she was introduced to the experiment to conduct interviews.
Zimbardo noted that, of more than 50 people who had observed the experiment, Maslach was the only one who questioned its morality. Using this interpretation, the results are compatible with those of the Milgram experiment , where random participants complied with orders to administer seemingly dangerous and potentially lethal electric shocks to a shill. Shortly after the study was completed, there were bloody revolts at both the San Quentin and Attica prison facilities, and Zimbardo reported his findings on the experiment to the U.
"Lancer" The Experiment (TV Episode 1970) - IMDb
House Committee on the Judiciary. Some guards felt the need to show their dominance even when it was not necessary. For example, they had to refer to prisoners by number rather than by name.
The uniforms were given to all participants to erase individual identity, and participants were randomly chosen to be either a prisoner or guard to reduce individuality. For example, juveniles accused of federal crimes are no longer housed before trial with adult prisoners, due to the risk of violence against them.
One third of the guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine sadistic tendencies", while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized; five of them had to be removed from the experiment early.
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After Maslach confronted Zimbardo and forced him to realize that he had been passively allowing unethical acts to be performed under his supervision, Zimbardo concluded that both prisoners and guards had become grossly absorbed in their roles and realized that he had likewise become as grossly absorbed in his own, and he terminated the experiment.
Conclusions and observations drawn by the experimenters were largely subjective and anecdotal , and the experiment is practically impossible for other researchers to accurately reproduce. Fromm also argued that the amount of sadism in the "normal" subjects could not be determined with the methods employed to screen them. He further intensified his actions because he was nicknamed " John Wayne " by the other participants, even though he was trying to mimic actor Strother Martin , who had played the role of the sadistic prison Captain in the movie.
I set out with a definite plan in mind, to try to force the action, force something to happen, so that the researchers would have something to work with. After all, what could they possibly learn from guys sitting around like it was a country club? So I consciously created this persona. I was in all kinds of drama productions in high school and college.
It was something I was very familiar with: They seemed to join in. They were taking my lead. The researchers recruited students for a study using an advertisement similar to the one used in the Stanford Prison Experiment, with some ads saying "a psychological study" the control group , and some with the words "prison life" as originally worded in Dr.
It was found that students who responded to the classified advertisement for the "prison study" were higher in traits such as social dominance , aggression , authoritarianism , etc. He argues that participants in psychological experiments are more likely to do what they believe the researchers want them to do. The guards were essentially told to be cruel.
Most of the Stanford guards did not exhibit any cruel or unusual behavior, often being friendly and doing favors for the prisoners The statistical validity of the sample of participants, 24 male Stanford students of about the same age, has been called into question as being too small and restrictive to be generally applicable to the population at large In particular, the environment and authority roles they found themselves in changed their actions.
Comparisons to Abu Ghraib[ edit ] When acts of prisoner torture and abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were publicized in March , Zimbardo himself, who paid close attention to the details of the story, was struck by the similarity with his own experiment.
Eventually, Zimbardo became involved with the defense team of lawyers representing one of the Abu Ghraib prison guards, Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick.
Zimbardo drew from his participation in the Frederick case to write the book The Lucifer Effect: Despite the fact that participants were told they had the right to leave at any time, Zimbardo did not allow this during the experiment.
Currently, there are ethical guidelines to be followed. Before they are implemented, human studies must now undergo an extensive review by an institutional review board US or ethics committee UK in accordance with the ethical guidelines by the American Psychological Association. A post-experimental debriefing is now considered an important ethical consideration to ensure that participants are not harmed in any way by their experience in an experiment.
Though Zimbardo did conduct debriefing sessions, they were several years after the Stanford Prison Experiment.
By that time numerous details were forgotten; nonetheless, many participants reported that they experienced no lasting negative effects. If there is an unavoidable delay in debriefing, the researcher is obligated to take steps to minimize harm. Specifically, it questions the notion that people slip mindlessly into role and the idea that the dynamics of evil are in any way banal. Their research also points to the importance of leadership in the emergence of tyranny of the form displayed by Zimbardo when briefing guards in the Stanford experiment.
Both studies examine human nature and the effects of authority. Personalities of the subjects had little influence on both experiments despite the test prior to the prison experiment. Conformity is strengthened by allowing some participants to feel more or less powerful than others. In the story, college student volunteers are randomly assigned to factions Blue, Green, and Yellow and locked in a campus building. Italian students made a film based on it, La Gabbia The Cage.
The Stanford Prison Experiment , is a documentary about the experiment, made available via the Stanford Prison Experiment website.
The Experiment (1970) - IMDb
The documentary was written by Zimbardo and directed and produced by Ken Musen. In the third season of the television series Veronica Mars — , a variant of the experiment is recreated as an activity for a sociology class, the main difference being that the guards were expected to get information out of the prisoners. Broadening, a play in the Dublin Fringe Festival , was based on the Stanford experiment. Twisted But True in the documentary short "Creative Evil".
In , the Danish national television channel DR3 recreated the experiment in the television series Ond, ondere, ondest. The film The Stanford Prison Experiment is another film based on the experiment. Castle and Beckett investigate a murder and discover its relationship to a recreation of the Stanford Prison Experiment. In an October episode of the ITV television show Lewis, the second half mentions the Stanford prison experiment, and eventually the whole case revolves around it.