A famous sociological study is The Stanford Prison Study conducted by Philip Zimbardo in the early 1970s. Using the library, find and read the Stanford Prison Study. Pay special attention to the outcome of the experiment. Discuss how Zimbardo’s findings apply to similar, real-life events happening today. Be sure to find and present examples of the concepts introduced in the experiment in your discussion. Please include a short introduction and a conclusion
The Stanford Prison Experiment was a landmark experiment in the history of prison operations. Here a number of males aged between 25 and 35 were allotted the status of camp guards and the effects on their psychological makeup were asserted by this experiment. Although initially unsuccessful at first there was a lot going for the experiment per se as it demonstrated how the prison guards could be psychologically affected by their work. The fallout from the experiment as also positive in that it shed new light on the way prisons operate and how man can degenerate into a violent human being.
However the experiment eventually failed miserably as the students decided to take the law into their own hands and began using authoritarian measures on the so called prisoners with everything resulting as rather out of hand. Some prisoners suffered psychological torture and even physical abuse with the psychology professor Philip Zimbardo culpable for the abuse as he actually permitted it to continue. Some of the prisoners actively resisted the abuse whilst others did not and were very passive accordingly.
The concepts used by Zimbardo could easily be applied today with the problem of prison overcrowding however one may not actually know what went on as the experiment as stopped after six days without much hope of further research. However the psychological effects of continued violence definitely take their toll on guards and prisoners are on more than one occasion treated as animals as has occurred recently in some South American prisons.
Although the Stanford Prison Experiment did not ultimately succeed, the concept was quite laudable and one can always say that some good did come out of it. The way wardens are affected by their job is perhaps one of the most positive points of the experiment and one can also say that the effects on prisoners can be ascertained. The experiment can safely be conducted today and its effects are definitely important to be studied and perused over in great detail.
Carnahan, T. & McFarland, S. (2007). Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment: Could Participant Self-Selection Have Led to the Cruelty? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 5, 603-614.
Haney, C., Banks, W. C., & Zimbardo, P. G. (1973). Study of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison. Naval Research Reviews, 9, 1–17. Washington, DC: Office of Naval Research
Haney, C., Banks, W. C., & Zimbardo, P. G. (1973). Interpersonal dynamics in a simulated prison. International Journal of Criminology and Penology, 1, 69–97.
Haslam, S. Alexander & Reicher, Stephen (2003). Beyond Stanford: Questioning a role-based explanation of tyranny. Dialogue (Bulletin of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology), 18, 22–25.