Stanford Prison simulation experiment by Zimbardo

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  • Stanford Prison Stimulation Experiment
    • Findings
      • The study had to be discontinued after 6 days because the guards humiliated and harassed the guards to a great extent
      • Prisoners rebelled against their guards after two days, the guards put an end to this using fire extinguishers
      • Some prisoners became depressed and anxious
      • 1 prisoner had to be released after one day, 2 more prisoners had to be released on the fourth day
      • By day 6, the prisoners were submissive to the guards
    • Conclusion
      • The participants conformed to their social roles because of situational factors
        • None of the participants who acted as guards showed sadistic tendencies before the experiment = the prison environment was an important factor in creating the guards' brutal behaviour
      • The roles that people play shape their attitudes and behaviour
      • People will readily conform to social roles especially if the roles are strongly stereotyped
      • Weaknesses
        • Savin (1973) criticised the study for the way the participants were humiliated. He does not believe the knowledge gained justified the means by which it was recquired
        • Zimbardo should not have played a dual role as he got caught up in the business as a superintendent instead of a researcher
        • Some argue that the deception was not necessary as it is unethical as it leaves them feeling foolish or humiliated
        • Demand characteristics may have played a part as the volunteers may have tried to be good subjects and behaved in the ways they thought the researcher wanted
    • Strengths
      • Zimbardo reports that follow ups over many years showed that there were no lasting negative effects, the participants were healthy and were able to go back to normal life
        • And they learned that even the most intelligent and well-intentional people can be overwhelmed by social influences
      • Deception was necessary because a what if experiment would not produce accurate results
        • Zimbardo argues that this type of research should not be banned, but better research should be carried out


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