The Stanford Prison Experiment (1971)



  • to test whether bruitality of prison guards was the result of sadistic personalities or whether it was created by the situation


  • set up mock prison in basement of psychology depertment at Stanford University
  • Zimbardo recruited 24 'emotionally stable', volunteer, male students 
  • randolmy assigned roles of guards or prisoners 
  • 'prisoners' arrested in their homes and delivered to the 'prison' to increase realism
    • blindfolded, *****-searched, deloused and issued a uniform and number
  • social roles of prisoners and guards strictly divided:
    • prisoner's daily routine was heavily regulated - 16 rules to follow enforced by guards working in shifts (3 at a time)
    • guards had their own uniform - wooden club, handcuffs, keys


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