The Stanford Prison Experiment


The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment


Week 6 PSYC 101 Forum Post

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Chapter 10 of our textbook discusses one of the most famous psychological experiments of all time, conducted by Dr. Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues at Stanford University. To read more of the details of this experiment, visit . After reading about the experiment and exploring the website, answer the following:

1. Was it ethical to do the prison study in the way that Zimbardo conducted it? Why or why not? Explain your position substantively.


enlightened In responding to the above, keep in mind that morals and ethics aren’t the same thing. Morals are right vs. wrong behavior internal compasses that guide personal life decisions and are grounded in family beliefs, faith traditions, etc. Ethics are standards of behavior established by a professional organization, such as the American Psychological Association. You may have very strong feelings about whether the Zimbardo study was moral, but here we are discussing ethics.

2. How do the social psychology concepts of conformity and the power of the social situation that we are studying this week relate to what happened during the brief period of time that the prison study ran. Where in the description of how the study unfolded did we see evidence of these concepts?

enlightened Ground your answer to the questions in #2 in our assigned readings for this week and think social psychology. For example, the guards were given power over the prisoners and having power may affect others’ obedience to one’s rules, but one can affect obedience one-on-one as we see in the Milgram study. What we mean when we say “the power of the social situation” is the impact that being with others in a group setting, whether public or private, has on people’s behavior, such as the degree to which they conform to perceived norms).

The Stanford Prison Experiment

1. It was not ethical to conduct a study according to the way that Zimbardo had conducted it. This is because the rights of the students were violated. The prisoners were treated as real prisoners and were harassed the same way that real prisoners are usually harassed. Waking the prisoners in middle of the night was one of the worst things that the prisoners were passing through. According to the standards of student’s treatment, it was not right to treat students in such a cruel manner. Students were forced to put on prisoners uniforms without underpants, this was a violation of their rights as they had to do whatever they had been commanded against their will. The students went for the auditions in order to become acting prisoners and not real prisoners as they were being treated. This tends to violate the agreement that they had when applying for the experiment, hence they were harmed against their will.


What we are studying relates to the brief prison study in the sense that the actors of the ‘prison study’ uses social psychology while trying to deal with the prisoners. This is clearly depicted when different factors are about to occur, the prison guards are forced to deal with the psychology of the prisoners in order to avoid misunderstandings. On the other hand, before the visitors came, because of the bad cell conditions, the prisoners were forced to wash different parts of the cell. The prison guards confused the prisoners through playing with their psychology in order to be able to have control over them and create enmity between the prisoners hence reducing the chances of planned escape by the prisoners. Social psychology has consequently between used by the guards to make sure that they do not force o the prisoners but they play with their psychology. This consequently explains what we learnt in class through applying social psychology in the prison experiment.

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