The Standford Prison Experiment

Unit 7 assignment: Stanford Prison Experiment
Kaplan University
8 December, 2012

Stanford Prison Experiment
The Zimbardo prison experiment was a study of human responses to captivity, dehumanization and its effects on the behavior on authority figures and inmates in a prison environment. Conducted in 1971, the experiment was led by Phlilip Zimbardo. Volunteer College students played the roles of both guards and prisoners living in a simulated prison setting in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.
Philip Zimbardo and his team aimed to demonstrate the situational rather than the dispositional causes of the negative behaviors and thought patterns found in prison settings by conducting the simulation with average everyday individuals playing the roles of guards and prisoners. From a total of seventy-five volunteers, twenty-two male volunteers were selected based on maturity, stability and lack of involvement in anti-social behaviors. Those participants were predominantly white and middle-class. The participants were randomly either prison or guard roles and were all strangers to each other. Those allocated to prisoner roles were required to sign a consent document which specified that some of their human rights would suspended and that all participants would receive a sum of fifteen dollars a day for up to two weeks.
The prison itself was located in the basement corridor of the Stanford Psychology Department, which had been converted a set of 2 x 3 meter prison cells with a solitary confinement room converted from a tiny unlit closet. An undergraduate research assistant was the "warden" and Zimbardo the "superintendent". He set up a number of specific conditions for the participants who were intended to promote disorientation, and depersonalization.
To facilitate role identification, guards were given wooden batons and khaki, military-style uniforms. They were also given reflecting sunglasses to prevent eye contact with the prisoners....