Conformity to social roles: Zimbardo's research

  • Conformity to social roles: Zimbardo's research 
  • AO1:
  • Key study: The Staford prison experiment (SPE):
  • Procedure - Zimbardo and his colleagues (Haney et al) set up a mock prison in the basement of the psychology department at Stanford University to test whether the brutality of prison guards was the result of sadistic personalities or whether it was created by the situation. They recruited 24 'emotionally stable' students determined by psychological testing - they were randomly assigned roles of guards or prisoners. To increase realism, 'prisoners' were arrested from their homes and deliveres to the 'prison' - blindfolded, *****-searched, deloused and issued a uniform and a number. 
  • The 'prisoners' daily routines were heavily regulated. There were 16 rules to follow, enforced y guards working in shifts, 3 at a time. There was a sense on de-individuation (losing a sense of personal identity) for the gards as the prisoners names were never used, only their numbers, and the guards had their own uniforms, and were told they had compete control over the prisners, even deciding when they could go to the toilet. 
  • Findings - Withing 2 days the prisoners rebelled against their treatment. They ripped their uniforms and shouted and swore at the guards, who retaliated with fire extingushers. Guards harassed the prisoners constantly, by doing frequent headcounts several times a day (sometimes in the middle of the night). The guards hughlighted the differences in social roles by creating opportunities to enforce the rules and punich slight misdemeanors. 
  • The guards took up their roles with enthusiasm. Thei behaviour threatenedd the prisoners; psychological and physical health. After the rebellion was put down, the


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