Reicher & Haslam 5

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Reicher & Haslam

Reicher & Haslam 

Aim: Analyse conditions which led individuals to identify with their groups and the conditions that lead individuals to accept or challenge intergroup qualities 

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  • 15 males
  • selected from pool of 332 that responded to advertisments
  • Screening process ensures only well-adjusted and pro-social participants used

Conducted in 3 stages:

  • Psychometric test
  • Full weekend clinical assesment 
  • Medical character reference + Police Checks 
  • Final choice to ensure diversity = age, soical class, ethinicity 
  • Final 15 split into 5 groups (matched pairs design)
  • One of each group randomly selected as gaurd and other 2 prisoner
  • 10th participants introduced later 
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  • Laboratory study 
  • Prison environment constructed
  • Prisoners in lockable 3 person cell

Induction Process-Gaurds

  • invited to hotel, evening before study 
  • told would be gaurds
  • Responisbility = instituion ran smoothly
  • Asked to draw up series of punishment for prisoner rules violation
  • Given formal uniform 

Induction process-Prisoners

  • 9 prisoners arrived individually 
  • Given uniform = t-shirt with number with trousers + sandals 
  • Given list of prisoner rights + rules 
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Method II


  • Day 3: movement between groups no longer possible 
  • Day 6: allocation to prisoner and gaurd was random (gaurds have no special qualitites)
  • Day 7: New prisoner introduced


Social, organisational and clinical variables measured via the following:

  • Video and audio recordings, wherever the prisoners were
  • Daily Psychometric tests
  • Daily Saliva test 
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  • Prisoner behaviour at start in compliant
  • Manipulation on day 3 = stonger sense of group and lack of co-operation with gaurds and rules
  • Manipulation on day 5 = decrease in compliance
  • Manipulation of day 7 = organised break out and collapse of prisoner-gaurd structure 
  • Prisoners + gaurds establish a 'self-governing, self disciplining' commune
  • Some lost faith, so they formed a new authoritarian regime, they asked for uniform and called themselves the 'new gaurds' 
  • Remainder did nothing to defend commune = lack of individual and collective will
  • For ethical reasons, study was terminated on day 8
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  • Compared to Zimbardio's stanford prison experiment
  • Results similiar to S.P.E but participants took a different path to reach outcome
  • Events determined by failure of shared identity and commune, prevented positive change so lead to authoritarian regime
  • Agree with Zimbardio that tyranny was a product of group processes, but people do not mindlesly conform to roles or abuse power. Group indetification occurs when people identify with group and its values
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  • Lab experiments = high control and can manipulate IV
  • case study = Lots of quantitative and qualitative data 


  • Low ecological validity = lab experiment
  • Case study = hard to generalize findings of behaviour of only 15 men 
  • ethical gudlines viloated = signs of distress in participants 


  • Organising and controlling unequal and heirachial social systems 
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