psychology reicher and haslam; bbc prison study

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  • Created on: 09-02-14 21:09

reicher and haslam; bbc prison study


the role we adopt affects our behaviour. without people to interact with, we would not have a role. a role is usually defined as the behaviour expected of a person occupying a certain position in a group. will the role we play affect our behaviour in such a way that it makes us behave and act in ways that we would not normally do with our individual will.

the stanford prison experiment (SPE)

anonymity is achieved in a prison when playing roles because officers wear their uniform shades to cover their eyes. prisoners wear a uniform with their identity stripped and given a number. the study was funded by the US navy and the marine corps, with the aim of helping to explain the causes of conflict between guards and prisoners in its prison system, where brutality was not known.zimbardo was interested in looking at the situational impact on the behaviour of individuals, because if the situation was the reason for the behaviour, the problems could be addressed more easily. people just tend to assume that prisoners are inconsiderate to others which causes the problems. whereas on the ther hand officers are chosen for the task as they are insensative, which could also be a reason for the problem.

haney pointed out; " the experience of prison creates undeniably almost to the point of cliche, an intense hatred and disrespect in most inmantes for the authority and established order of society into which they will eventually return"

the study was therefore designed to find out whether it was possible to explain what was going on with the prison environment by attributing the causes to either situational of dispositional reasons. varibales would confound each other if the experiment was done in a normal prison because they were already experiencing it. so a simualted prison was set up in the basement of stanford university in the USA and the student participants were recruited through a local newspaper advert, calling for volunteers to take part in the study of the psychological effects of prison life.

the applicants were given diagnostic interviews and personality tests in order to exclude those with psychological or mental problems, or a history of crime or drug abuse. this left a sample of 14 male college students, who were healthy, intelligent and middle-class, from the USA and canada. they were randomly divided into two groups by the toss of a coin, so no differences between the two groups. one group were assigned the role of prisoners and one group was assigned the role of guards.zimbardo, depersonalised and emasculated, and for deindividuation to take place, which included iniform for both the prisoners and the guards.

the study was suppose to last 14 days but was terminated after 6 due to extreame behaviours of the guards and intense responses of the prisoners.prisoners experienced sadistic and humiliating treatment from the guards, and the high levels of discomfort they felt initally caused them to rebel. then…


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