Reicher + Halsam Study

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  • Reicher + Haslam  (2006)
    • Procedure
      • Randomly assigned 15 'normal, pro-social' men to the role of guard or prisoner
      • Ppts divided into 5 groups - matched by personality traits
        • 1 would be guard, 2 would prisoners
      • Ran for 8 days instead of 10
      • 3 screening process
        • Clinical assessments
        • social + clinical variable
          • Dominance/ aggressiveness
        • police checks
        • medical + character references gathered
      • Prisoners told physical violence wasn't tolerated
      • Guards
        • Told they were selected as guards -  created legitimacy
          • Even though this was random
        • Guards must create rules + punishments but not told how to achieve their goals
        • Told no physical violence
        • shown timetables
        • Access to all areas
        • better accommodation + food
      • Ppts had daily tests to measure their social, organisational + clinical skills
      • Prisoners
        • told nothing but physical violence not tolerated
        • 3 man cells
        • Uniform
          • Hair shaved
          • loose trousers
          • t shirts with 3 digit numbers
        • rules listed on wall
        • arrived 1 at a time
      • IV - legititamcy, permeability, personality/ leadership quailities
    • Findings
      • Ppts didn't conform automatically to their assigned role
        • opposite to Zimbardo's
      • Phase 1
        • Guards disagree + so don't form a group identity
          • Made them reluctant to impose authority on prisoners
        • prisoners acted as individuals + showed qualities for promotion
        • After promotion, prisoners form a tighter group
          • Challenged gaurds
          • beat the system
          • Increasingly identified as a group + worked collectively to challenge guards
        • Opposite to Zimbardo's - guards had the group identity
      • Phase 2
        • Day 6, cell break + prisoners occupied guards quarters
        • Guards + prisoners all decided to work together
        • some tried to enforce harsher systems of inequality on other members
        • Day 8, study stopped
          • Needed control
          • become unethical?
          • Stopped early - similar to Zimbardo
      • Shift of power
    • Conclusions
      • How a group work depends on more than just taking on a social role
      • Failing groups may promote tyranny
      • when people are unable to create a social system for themselves, they are more likely to accept extreme solutions proposed by others
    • Permeability
      • selection tests so guards can identity prisoners who show 'guard like' qualities as promotion is possible on day 3
    • Fairness (legitimacy)
      • 1 prisoner promoted and then prisoners told no more changes could be made - seen unfair by some prisoners

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