Book review on zimbardo prison study

Essay by hazelnut_joeeUniversity, Bachelor's March 2014

download word file, 10 pages 0.0


Book Review on Zimbardo's Prison Study

Wong Jo Ee


SNHU Center for Programs

Psychology of Personality

PSY 216

Franklin Morais


In the classics' book review assignment, I chose Philip Zimbardo's famous research article on the study of psychological effects of role-playing as guards and prisoners, or better known as the Zimbardo Prison Study (Haney, Banks, & Zimbardo, 1973). Zimbardo was hired as a professor of Psychology at Stanford University in 1971. Sponsored with a government grant by the U.S. Office of Naval research, Zimbardo worked on the prison study in order to development a better understanding of the basic psychological mechanism behind human aggression. (Haney, Banks, & Zimbardo, 1973).

In this study, 22 subjects were selected from a pool of 75 respondents after answering a newspaper ad recruiting for male college students to participate in a psychological study on "prison life" and they were promised a payment of $15 per day.

They also went through an extensive questionnaire, interviewed by two experimenters before subjects that were rated as the most stable, most mature, and least involved in anti-social behaviour were finally selected. These participants were randomly assigned as roles of "guards" and "prisoners" in the supposedly 2-week long study. The setting of this study was at the basement of Standford University's psychology building converted into a functional prison. Meanwhile, interactions between participants were secretly observed by the experimenters. Results of the study were further derived from the observations.

Part I

The Zimbardo's prison study was controversial and received criticism as it had hurt the participants, especially the "prisoners" psychologically. The participants were more immersed in their roles than expected, stepping into boundaries that had caused the study to halt after only 6 days. However, the power of role-playing and how greatly it...