Stanford Prison Experiment




Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison experiment was concerned with examining the behavior change among human beings when awarded roles as prison guards or prisoners. Conducted by Philip Zimbardo, the results of the experiment shed light on the reaction of human beings to restricted behavior and a deprivation of individuality. However, the experiment also produced several negative results. The inmates and guards took on their roles more than it was anticipated; stepping further than the limits of what had been forecasted, contributing to risky and psychologically destructive situations. A larger number of the guards displayed authentic vicious predispositions, while many inmates were emotionally distressed and even two prisoners had to be removed from the experiment prematurely.

In terms of the validity of the experiment, most of the peer reviews concluded that Zimbardo found it impossible to maintain conventional scientific controls. As the key moderator, Zimbardo himself was biased and affected by the experiment to a point that he lost all control over the participants. The experiment also went against earlier conclusions made by Erich Fromm that suggested the behavior of an individual is determined by their personality rather than the environment in which they exist. The participants of the study were also accused of engaging in mere role-play and basing their conduct on their previous experiences and knowledge of prison guards and inmates. The results of the Stanford Prison experiment were closely similar to the events that occurred in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The experiment was valuable in shedding light on the effect of a restricted environment and authority figures on the behavior of individuals with different personalities. While the overall results were labeled as inhuman, unethical and illegal, the study greatly assisted psychologists in coming up with treatment for patients that experience emotional and psychological trauma in prisons.

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