The Stanford Prison Experiment

      33 Comments on The Stanford Prison Experiment



The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted from August 14 to 20,1971 by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. It was funded by a grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research and was of interest to both the US Navy and Marine Corps in order to determine the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners.
Twenty-four students were selected out of 75 to play the prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Roles were assigned randomly. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond what even Zimbardo himself expected, leading the “officers” to display authoritarian measures and ultimately to subject some of the prisoners to torture. In turn, many of the prisoners developed passive attitudes and accepted physical abuse, and, at the request of the guards, readily inflicted punishment on other prisoners who attempted to stop it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his capacity as “Prison Superintendent”, lost sight of his role as psychologist and permitted the abuse to continue as though it were a real prison. Five of the prisoners were upset enough by the process to quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days. The experimental process and the results remain controversial. The entire experiment was filmed, with excerpts made publicly available.

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33 thoughts on “The Stanford Prison Experiment

  1. David Hager

    When one of the prisoners told the others that they couldn't leave Zimbardo should have clarified with them that they could. It's essentially telling them they weren't allowed to leave, and then when questioned saying "well the door was actually unlocked the whole time, they could have left at any moment." He knew the prisoner told them they couldn't leave but for the interest of the study he let it be, floating in a gray area where technically he didn't tell them himself they couldn't leave, even though common sense says it was still unethical. I like the experiment and what we've learned from it, but don't hand this guy a free pass.

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  2. remsensor TM

    I think this is a no brainer. If one were to conduct an experiment that granted visas for a year long stay in say North Korea or any other tyrannical state (with promise the subject would not be killed or seriously injured) you would find that when that person returned home they would be a (I don't want to say monster because war vets come home some are fine some deal with allot of issues but they certainly aren't monsters) But they most certainly would at the least come out different and not in a good way. When this experiment was conducted it should have been a wake up call to overhaul our prison system. First off we need to make privatized prison systems for profit illegal. Same goes for probation/parole. Aside from Russia and 3rd world countries we are the most barbaric in the way we treat our prisoners. It's been scientifically proven that retribution and punishment doesn't work. It's rehabilitation that fixes the offender. Just look at Norway, Austria, other places in the Netherlands. Now before you get angry that they live in a place that's greater than your apartment remember they are locked up. One of the worst things you can do to a person is deprive them of their freedom. But these countries I mentioned have some of the lowest crime rates and recidivism rates in the world. Numbers don't lie folks. I'm not sure I agree with 20 years being the max they can give but from what I was told if the crime is heinous enough the person will see a board and basically never be released. Last but not least remember that there are innocent people in prison. Hell just last year I almost got arrested for a very serious crime I didn't commit. And although I never spent a day incarcerated I feel like due to the stress and mental anguish I was robbed of that year. 5 percent of all prison inmates are innocent. That's only based on numbers from those proven innocent later and let go. So the the real number is not known but we can safely assume that the number is much higher. All it takes is a stupid detective and deception to put an innocent person in jail and if that person being accused isn't wise and at least moderately educated in their rights and the law then bam that's all it takes for it to happen. Currently though we the U.S. have the highest incarceration rate in the world. This should be ringing alarm bells but it doesn't. We also have one of the highest recidivism rates basically referring to prisons as revolving doors. Something needs changed but no politician has the balls to do it. Maybe it's all that private prison corporation money backing their campaigns. I don't have the answers but other countries have excellent models to look toward for guidance.

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  3. Saurabh Singh

    People need to realize that John Wayne is the smartest of them all. John Wayne and the hunger strike guy. John Wayne made this experiment a success showing that public fears anyone who has power over them. How the other prisoners left 416 in the hole for a bit of warmth is what should be appalled for they are the truly despicable ones here. Wayne just showed their true selfish face to everyone and most of the people commenting here are such heartless creatures who will sacrifice their neighbours for an extra penny despite their morally correct rhetoric. And this was the purpose of this experiment to show this outrageous duality.

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  4. Bec Smith

    If it interests you guys, all Psychology 1 lectures at Stanford take place in the basement of Jordan Hall, several feet away from the site of the experiement. My professor told us about it after the first day of class and it was horrifying

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  5. DangerDan

    It's interesting to watch the guy, Dave, try to explain away his actions and downplay everything that he did, when cleary he was enjoying the whole thing. I doubt very seriously that he was just playing a part and being evil to prove some point. It seemed like he loved having power over the prisoners. He didn't have to be so creative with the punishments, that was 100% his decision to degraded them that badly. In my opinion he might be some type of sociopath/psychopath, or some other antisocial personality disorder. He seems to feel no remorse whatsoever, even when confronted by the ex prisoner at the end of the experiment, and even all these years later. Very strange and unsettling, but interesting experiment.

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  6. silverDsherry

    …this only shows the human nature of middle class white boys…this experiment is honestly bullshit lmao at least try this with an equal men/women ratio from different backgrounds and races

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  7. nibus9

    Wow Western Countries you can do anything for example in countries such as India such experiments are simply impossible and nobody will approve such pragmatic study. I think it is the culture.

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  8. ilovedogsilovethem

    That John Wayne guy (Dave Eshelman) seems really icky. It's disgusting how he tries to excuse his behavior. He doesn't even look remorseful. He obviously found satisfaction in being cruel, going off on his own agenda to humiliate the other men. There's no excuse for acting like that. Other guards didn't go nearly as far as he did.

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