A Critique Of the Stanford Experiment
'The Education of a Torturer' is an account of experiments that has similar results
to that of Milgram's obedience experimentsthat were performed in 1963. Though both
experiments vary drastically, both have one grim outcome, that is that, 'it is ordinary
people, not psychopaths, who become the Eichmanns of history.'
The Stanford experiment was performed by psychologists Craig Haney, W. Curtis
Banks, and Philip Zimbardo. Their goal was to find out if ordinary people could become
abusive if given the power to do so. The results of the six day experiment are chilling. The
experiment took ordinary college students and had some agree to be prisoners and the rest
would be guards for the prisoners. Both groups received no training on what to do or act
like. They had to get all of their knowledge of what to do from outside sources, such as
television and movies.
The guards were given uniforms and night sticks and told to act
like an ordinary guard would. The prisoners were treated like normal criminals. They
were finger printed and booked, after that they were told to put on prison uniforms and
then they were thrown into the slammer (in this case a simulated cellblock in the
basement was used). All of the participants in this experiment at first were thought to be
similar in behavior but after one week, all of that changed. The prisoners became
'passive, dependent, and helpless.' The guards on the other hand were the exact
opposite. They became 'aggressive and abusive within the prison, insulting and bullying
After the experiment was finished, many of the mock guards said that they enjoyed
the power. Others said that they had no idea that they were capable of being so corrupt.
The experimenter was...