Zimbardo Prison Experiment

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Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment The Stanford Prison Experiment was a study on guard and prisoner roles played in prison. The experiment was conducted for six days from August 14th to August 20th, 1971 to discover the psychological effects of becoming either a guard or a prisoner. To do this, psychologist Philip Zimbardo and his team designed a realistic prison simulation (with the help of the descriptions from former prisoners and ex-convicts) by boarding up a basement corridor of Stanford University’s Psychology Department building, using the hallway’s laboratory rooms as prison cells. The prison was bugged with microphones and cameras to monitor discussions and collect data. More than 70 students applied to participate in the experiment, which …show more content…
Although the volunteers were informed and gave consent to the fact that the experiment would entail harassment, minimal diet, and violation of privacy and civil rights, these entailments yielded no respect to the participants’ dignity or welfare. The prisoners were stripped, deloused, and shaved to have uniform haircuts, effectively dehumanizing them as individuals. Although violence was prohibited, there was instance in which the guards retaliated by using a fire extinguisher, shooting out a rush of carbon dioxide toward the inmates. In other forms of harassment, the guards made sure the prisoners suffered by forcing them to do push-ups, jumping jacks, clean out toilets with their bare hands, and extending their counts to hours at a time. In addition, the researchers were required to explain to the volunteers that they were entitled to refrain from participation or drop out of the experiment altogether. However, this does not seem to be the case in this experiment. Two days into the study, Prisoner #8612 began showing signs of disordered behavior, telling the other prisoners, “You can’t leave. You can’t quit.” Clearly they were under the impression of an imprisonment without escape. Another prisoner, Prisoner #819 found his suffering to no avail as he sobbed uncontrollably in his cell. It was at this point that Dr. Zimbardo intervened to defined the line between role-playing and reality, when the reality was that he lost himself to the experiment as a psychological researcher. The prisoners left with scars that no one could have imagined from the start.
There is no doubt that Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment shed light on psychological discoveries, yet the study did more harm than good and violated many ethical standards. Thus, an experiment as such would definitely not be carried