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Psychological effects of Zimbardo Prison Experiment

Psychological effects of Zimbardo Prison Experiment

Description of the study

The prison experiment carried out was a simulation study of the psychological imprisonment conducted at Stanford University. In the summer of 1971 Dr Zimbardo set out to find the answers to the following posed questions. “What happens when you put good people in an evil place?” “Does humanity win over evil or does evil triumph?” The planned two week experiment, hand to be brought to a halt in barely six days, because of how the students behaved of who participated. In a matter of a couple of days, the guards became sadistic and the prisoners became very stressed. This shocking study about social psychology reveals the hidden truth about the nature of human nature.

Volunteers for this experiment were chosen via a newspaper, asking for people to take part in a study of the psychological effects of prison life. The experiment was aimed in finding out what the psychological effects were of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. Setting up a simulated prison and noting the behavior of those inside created this.

Finally 24 college students were chosen from over 70 applicants. They were from the Stanford area and wanted to earn $15 per day by participating in a study. The 24 white, males were all normal, healthy middleclass students. They were put into 2 groups by flipping a coin, and then randomly decided one group would be the guards and the other group would be prisoners. Zimbardo and other researchers called upon help of others to simulate a prison environment close to a real one. Their prison was constructed in the basement of the psychology department at Stanford. Prison cells were created by taking off doors and replacing them with steel bars and cell numbers. “The Hole” was created to become solitary confinement. This was dark and very cramped. The prisoners were blindfolded and in shock when brought in to “Stanford County Jail”. They were greeted by a warden who explained the seriousness of their offence.

Each prisoner was searched and stripped. They were once again kept blindfolded at all times and deloused with spray in supposedly believing that he may have germs or lice.

Many of the procedures carried out by the prison guards as a form of humiliation were very similar to methods undertaken in real life prisons, many in the past and some from prisons of today.

The prisoners were...

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Category:   Psychology

Length:   12 pages (2,697 words)

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