Stanford Prison Experiment Case Study

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The Stanford Prison Experiment: A Journey Into Authoritarian Leadership

Over the years, scientists, psychologists, and doctors have used social experiments to further their understanding of our surroundings. Social experiments are studies of the human mind and psyche through various environments. In this case, a social experiment called the Stanford Prison Experiment is what opened new doors for the comprehension of human behavior, how we act when we are in power, as well as offered a glimpse into the flaws in our legal system. This experiment was conducted in 1971 in Palo Alto, California. As stated in the name of the actual experiment, it was a simulation of how it was like to be imprisoned. The participants were 24 college students. The
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While the test subjects did in fact consent to the experiment via documents, they developed this false understanding through the experiment that they could not leave at any time, that “there was no way out”. During this time period, there were no existing laws that this experiment violated but it did pave the way for several to be introduced. For example, in the consent form it stated that the prisoners would not experience physical harm, but several days later they were brutally beaten by the guards. A few scenarios such as this one would be considered illegal with today’s legal system. One law that was created after this required federal prisons to separate minors awaiting trial from adults to avoid them suffering from abuse. Although many argue this experiment was unethical, Zimbardo actually changed how we perceive laws and superiority in the prison setting. An abundance of laws were introduced into federal legislation that helped advocate for people awaiting trial and even those convicted of a…show more content…
It showed how normal civilians acted when they were given authority over others. Even the most cordial, intelligent people can take on an evil, machiavellianistic nature when introduced to a dominant role in an individualized setting. This experiment taught psychologists so many things about human behavior and the prison system. It is an event that is taught in classrooms all over the world. While some people question the ethics of the experiment, it paved the way for more understanding as well as the reform of psychological practices
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