Conformity to social roles: Zimbardo's research

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  • Created by: Jordan64
  • Created on: 24-08-17 14:17
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  • Conformity to social roles: Stanford Prison Experiment (1973)
    • Procedure
      • Tested whether the brutality of prison guards was the result of sadistic personalities or if it was created by situation
      • 24 'emotionally stable students' determined by psychological testing
        • Randomly assigned to roles of guards or prisoners
      • To increase realism, 'prisoners' were arrested in homes and delivered to 'prison' - blindfolded, *****-searched, deloused and issued uniform and number
      • Prisoners daily routines were heavily regulated - 16 rules to follow, enforced by guards working in shifts, 3 at a time
      • Only prisoners numbers were used, Guards had own uniform and told they had complete power over prisoners
    • Findings
      • In two days: prisoners rebelled against treatment
        • Ripped uniforms and shouted at guards, who retaliated with fire extinguishers
      • Guards harassed prisoners constantly by conducting frequent headcounts, sometimes in middle of night
      • Guards highlighted differences in social roles by creating opportunities to enforce rules and punish slight misdemeanours
      • Guards took up roles with enthusiasm. Their behaviour threatened prisoners' psychological health
        • After rebellion put down, prisoners subdued, anxious and depressed
        • Three prisoners were released early as showed signs of psychological disturbance
        • One prisoner went on hunger strike; guards attempted to force-feed him and punished him by placing him in 'hole' - tiny dark closet
          • The prisoner was shunned by the other prisoners
      • Study stopped after 6 days instead of planned 2 weeks
  • Showed power of situation to influence people's behaviour
    • Guards, Prisoners and Researchers all conformed to social roles in prison
      • The more the guards identified with their roles, the more aggressive they became
    • Findings
      • In two days: prisoners rebelled against treatment
        • Ripped uniforms and shouted at guards, who retaliated with fire extinguishers
      • Guards harassed prisoners constantly by conducting frequent headcounts, sometimes in middle of night
      • Guards highlighted differences in social roles by creating opportunities to enforce rules and punish slight misdemeanours
      • Guards took up roles with enthusiasm. Their behaviour threatened prisoners' psychological health
        • After rebellion put down, prisoners subdued, anxious and depressed
        • Three prisoners were released early as showed signs of psychological disturbance
        • One prisoner went on hunger strike; guards attempted to force-feed him and punished him by placing him in 'hole' - tiny dark closet
          • The prisoner was shunned by the other prisoners
      • Study stopped after 6 days instead of planned 2 weeks

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