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The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE)
Zimbardo in 1973 designed experiment to show the results of
dispositional (personality) vs. Situational (environment).
His aim was `How ordinary people behave if placed in a prison
If the guards and prisoners are nonaggressive it means that
dispositional was the main factor.
But if the guards and prisoners are aggressive it means that
situational was the main factor.
Zimbardo predicted that the role you are given to play will
determine your behavior.
24 physically and mentally strong men picked.
The participants were unexpectedly taken from their home.
Prisoners Searched, given uniform, ID number, stocking
caps and ankle chain.
Guards Uniforms, clubs, whistles, handcuffs and
The prisoner's rights were: 3 meals a day 3 toilet trips per day
2 hours for reading or letter writing per day and 2 visits and
movies per week.
The guards took on their role and demanded prisoners to clean
the toilet with their bare hands in the middle of the night.
Some guards volunteered for extra hours with no pay.
One prisoner, when wanting to leave, asked for parole instead
of just asking to leave the experiment.
The experiment only lasted 6 days not the intended two weeks
as the experiment was causing to much psychological harm to
Was the experiment valid?
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In real life a prison guard is likely to adapt the role to suit their
Guards claimed that they had simply been acting a role. So it's
30% were cruel & tough guards, 50% were tough but fair
guards and 20% were good guards.
The results of this experiment are similar to that of the German
battalion 101. They killed 38,000 Jews in four months.…read more