The BBC prison study ( Reicher and haslam 2006)

Everything you need for exams the bbc prison study

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To investigate the effects on behaviour of putting participant into two groups unequal in terms of power

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  • field study by BBC
  • 15 men took part in a simulated prison style
  • Range of age, social class and ethnicity
  • put into 5 groups of 3
  • 1 person for each group joined the guards
  • participants were psychometrically tested and physically measure of stress taken
  • Guards made sure the prison ran smoothly and to make rules
  • Researchers were told they could get promoted and then it was taken away from them
  • six days in, the experimenters told participants there were no real difference between the guards and prisoners
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  • The prisoners adjusted their behaviour to try get promoted
  • The showed strong social identity and then tried to change the system
  • Guards did not share social identity
  • Prisoners gained demand by the  fourth day because of the lack of social identity that the guards had
  • By day six the system collapsed
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When groups are formed with shared norms and values, the members work together and become strong.

When there was a possibility of promotion the groups behaviour changed as thry do not have shared norms and values

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  • Demand characteristic as participants may have managed their behaviour in order to look good
  • It also lacks ecological validity
  • It could be argued that the prisoners had more demanding characteristics
  • Participant were screened
  • Supported by Zimbardo 1971 Standford prison experiment
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