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Bug said on July 17th, 2006 at 3:07 pm :

Surfed in from BE. Wow is all I can say about that whole experiment. It really does show how easily things can get out of hand in society *shakes head* Ah well, great blog! :)


Mandy said on July 17th, 2006 at 6:27 pm :

Oh my, I guess people have no idea until they are put into a situation like that. Interesting story and thnx for sharing.

I don’t have a spare fan, but if you find anyone that does, would you ask him for 2 please, and pass one over here hehe. :=)


Jul 16, 2006 | Stanford Prison Experiment

Stanford Prison Experiment

During the summer of 1971, an unprecedented experiment was conducted by Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo, involving a mockup of a prison built in the basement of the university’s Psychology Department. 24 undergraduate students were paid $15 a day to participate in what was intended to be a two-week experiement. They were either assigned a role as a prison guard or as a prisoner, and the guards were told to run the ‘prison’ as they saw fit with the one condition that they were not to use violence. The students who were assigned roles as prisoners were ‘arrested’ by Palo Alto police officers who escorted them to the prison, fingerprinted them, after which the prisoners were given ill-fitting smocks and rubber sandals with their given ‘numbers’ sewn.

The whole thing went out of hand relatively quickly, despite the fact that both the guards and the prisoners knew that they were participating in an experiment. A riot ensued on the second day; the prison quickly became filthy and unsanitary. Prisoners began to show severe acute emotional disturbances even within the first few days, forcing the prison ‘superintendent’, Zibargo himself, to intervene on behalf of two prisoners who were eventually ‘released’ from the experiment. The guards also became progressively more sadistic, denying food to unruly prisoners, forcing them to spend time in isolation, and even making them clean the bathrooms with their bare hands. The experiment ended after six days, when it became clear that the situation was spiralling out of control in its eerie realism.

“The Stanford prison was a very benign prison situation and it still caused guards to become sadistic, prisoners to become hysterical… it promoted everything a normal prison promotes … sadism, confusion and shame. ”

The implications and conclusions achieved by the experiement are particularly relevant to what happened at Abu Ghraib earlier in the war in Iraq, and it’s disturbing to note how people, irrelevant of personality or character, are able to impose authority, or on the other hand submit meekly without questioning, and furthermore to assume roles that are entirely made up. One must realize that an experiment of its kind, for its unethical nature, will probably never be reproduced again.

The following is a 29-minute long BBC documentary on the experiment:

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 16th, 2006 at 5:23 pm, EST under the category of Articles, Videos. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.