Philip Zimbardo's Prison Study Summary

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This paper speaks on Philip Zimbardo’s prison study of 1971 and what it demonstrated by explaining the aim, procedure and findings. Zimbardo was inspired to conduct this study in order to satisfy his curiosity on whether the brutality reported among guards in American prisons was due to the sadistic personalities of the guards which would be categorized as a dispositional case, or had more to do with the prison environment which would be a situational case. ‘Situational Case’ meaning behaviour displayed due to environmental factors and ‘Dispositional Case’ meaning behaviour displayed due to an individual’s personality. Saying that to say, prisoners and guards may have personalities which make conflict unavoidable, with prisoners not having…show more content…
He advertised for students to play roles of prisoners and guards, he had received over 70 responds to his ad. These applicants were given diagnostic interviews and personality tests to eliminate candidates with psychological problems, medical disabilities, or a history of crime or drug abuse. According to the July 16, 2015 update by Kendra Cherry psychology expert, a total of 24 students were chosen from 70 students to play both roles. The students were to be paid a total of $15 per fortnight. In order to make the prison experiment as realistic as possible Zimbardo had made those assigned to play the prisoner role were arrested by the Palo Alto police department, deloused, forced to wear chains and prison garments, and transported to the basement of the Stanford psychology department. While being arrested they were fingerprinted, photographed and ‘booked’, then they were blindfolded. Meanwhile the guards were dressed in identical uniforms of khaki, and they carried a whistle around their neck and also wore special sunglasses, to make eye contact with prisoners impossible. Three guards worked shifts of eight hours…show more content…
After the experiment the participants admitted that they were surprised at their own behaviours and felt like they were in a real life experience. One of the participants who played the role of a guard said, "I was surprised at myself. I made them call each other names and clean the toilets out with their bare hands. I practically considered the prisoners cattle and I kept thinking I had to watch out for them in case they tried something." Saul McLeod
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