Reicher and Haslam (2)
M&P (Cont.): The guards also had far better conditions than the prisoners, including superior meals, extra supplies of drinks and snacks, superior living conditions and well-made uniforms. The nine prisoners then arrived one at a time. Their heads were shaved, everyday clothes were taken away and they had to shower. The prisoners’ uniform consisted of a t-shirt printed with a 3-digit number, loose trousers and flimsy sandals. They were then put into cells.There were two interventions – permeability and cognitive alternatives. These interventions can be seen as the independent variables. Permeability refers to the degree to which it is perceived to be possible to move from one particular group into another. At their initial briefing, the guards were told that they had been selected because of their reliability, trustworthiness and initiative from pre-selection assessment scales. However the guards were told that they should observe the behaviour of the prisoners to see if anyone showed guard like qualities. If they did, they were told that there was provision for a promotion to be made on Day 3. After the promotion of one prisoner to guard actually took place the possibility of movement was removed by announcing that there would be no further promotions. Cognitive alternatives refers to group members' awareness of ways in which social relations could be restructured in order to bring about social change. On day 4 a new prisoner was introduced. He was chosen for this role because of his background as an experienced trade union official. Hence, it was expected that his introduction would enable the prisoners (and the participants more generally) to envisage the achievement of a more equal set of social relations.