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Built a mock prison in university basement
Recruited 24 healthy and well adjusted students as volunteers through a
local news paper ad calling for them to take part in a study of the
psychological effects of prison life.
Applicants screened for psychological problems, drug abuse and criminal
Randomly allocated them to the role of the prisoner or guard
Aim: to explain the causes of conflict between guards and prisoners in its
prison system, where brutality was not unknown- Was it the disposition of
the Ps and Gs or the situation they were in that is the reason for their
Found that interpersonal relationships deteriorated, became negative/
hostile/ humiliating, dehumanising
Guards became increasingly aggressive prisoners became passive and
depressed…read more

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4 prisoners developed rashes, crying, trembling and acute anxiety by 2nd
SPE terminated on 6th day as the behaviour of the guards became even
more tyrannical- supposed to last for 14 days
Zimbardo concluded:
The illusion of `power' had become real
Both Ps and Gs identified with and conformed to their allocated social role
The situation that people are in determines how they behave
This implies that people have no free will, that people cannot choose not to
act in accordance with their assigned social role
It is the role a person takes that leads to them adopting brutal behaviour…read more

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People get their identity from the group which they perceive they
belong to
To gain an identity we need to make comparisons between our group
and other groups
In order for our identity to be positive we need see our group as
superior to other groups
If it is less worthy than other groups, we are more likely to accept
discrimination and be unwilling to fight for its cause.…read more

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Incorporates social identity theory and self-categorisation theory
Proposes that groups can have a positive and negative effect on an
individual's behaviour
Suggests that the person doesn't simply act according to a role given to
them by someone else, but that their decision to act with or against the
group is dependent on whether they `internalize such (group) memberships
as part of the self concept'
In other words- if group membership is an important and integrated part of
the person's identity and the behaviour of the group contributes to their
sense of belonging and self-esteem, they will act with the group and/or
for the benefit of the group.
Some groups may use their power to become tyrannical but others may
use the power of the group to resist such tyranny- pro-social explanation:
result is positive rather than negative…read more

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Predicts that groups that break down or rebel against other groups
may have:-
Poor/ no leadership
No fairness in group/ society and no way to improve your status in
the group/society- this is called `legitimacy'
No `permeability' in the group- cannot move up in the system and
resources are unequal
Whether we feel positively valued by the group/ society…read more

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