The Stanford Prisoner Experiment Review

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The Stanford Prisoner Experiment Review PSYC 1111 – University of the People The Stanford Prison Experiment was an infamous psychological experiment conducted in the early 1970s by Dr. Philip Zimbardo. He sought to find an explanation for the dehumanizing, deplorable conditions found in many prisons. Psychological theories at the time were based on a dispositional hypothesis in which it was the natural disposition of the guards and prisoners from before they even entered the environment that lead to the behaviours that caused these poor conditions. This experiment was designed to challenge these theories by removing the possible effects of disposition while emulating as closely as possible all other aspects of a prison environment. The only hypothesis proposed was merely that the assignment of a ‘guard’ or ‘prisoner’ role would result in significantly different behaviours, emotions, and attitudes. The participants were selected from a pool of volunteer male college students as the 24 who were the most stable, mature, and least anti-social as determined by a thorough questionnaire about their background and history. None of the participants knew each other from before the experiment. Randomly, half of the participants were assigned the role of ‘guard’ and the other half were assigned the role ‘prisoner’. The guards were told to “maintain the reasonable degree of order within the prison necessary for its effective functioning” (Haney, Banks, Zimbardo, 1973, p. 7),
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