23 September 2014
"The Stanford Prison Experiment" by Philip G. Zimbardo raises troubling questions about the ability of individuals to exist repressive or obedient roles, if the social setting requires these roles. Philip G. Zimbardo, professor of psychology at Stanford University, began researching how prisoners and guards assume submissive and authoritarian roles. Considering the riots and outbreaks that took place and how they might effect the subjects, the data being collected holds no relevancy.
Prisoners are taken from their own homes, without warning, and taken to the local police station. The officers do not place the subjects in a real prison, only in a prison setting, and therefore the environmental and situational variables of a real prison are not present. For example in a normal prison, prisoners are not blindfolded when they enter the prison. Zimbardo argues though that prison is a confusing and dehumanizing experience and that it was necessary to enact certain procedures to put the prisoners in the proper mind-frame.
The mock prison represents an attempt to simulate the psychological state of imprisonment.
The warden speaks to the prisoners stating that "The rules are posted in each of the cell and if follow all of these rules and keep your hands clean, repent for your misdeeds, and show a proper attitude of penitence, you and I will get along" (Zimbardo 107). Within a short time both guards and prisoners were settling into their new roles, the guards adopting theirs quickly and easily. Within hours of beginning the experiment some guards begin to harass prisoners. The guards behave in a brutal and sadistic manner, apparently enjoying it and other guards join in. "Rule number one: Prisoners must remain silent during rest periods, after lights are out, during meals, and whenever...