Morality In The Stanford Prison Experiment, By Philip Zimbardo

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In 1971 at Stanford University in northern California, one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions, a well known experiment in the history of psychology took place. This was the stanford prison experiment that was ran by Philip Zimbardo. In this experiment Zimbardo was researching what happens when you put good people in an evil place? How do we respond to authority? Also, does the institution influence a person's behavior or does a person's attitude, values, and morality influence their attitude? The questions Zimbardo is asking are important to understanding group behavior because we must first understand the individual person, microanalysis, in order to be able to understand the group, macroanalysis.
The method of this experiment
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The experiment also shows how the subjects reacted to the situation versus their own values and morality. The findings relate to several concepts from the textbook. First, status is one concept seen from the very beginning of this experiment. “Status is an established position in a social structure that carries with it a degree of social rank or value” (Andersen, Taylor, 106). This relates to an individual's personality altering when they are given the position of authority. In the experiment the guards are given authority by having control over the prisoners. Although they may not use physical violence the guards use emotional and mental violence against the prisoners by yelling at them and waking them up at 2:30am to do things such as cleaning. Another concept is groupthink. “Groupthink, described by I. L. Janis, is the tendency for group members to reach a consensus opinion, even if that decision is downright stupid (Janis 1982)” (Andersen, Taylor, 131). This is seen within the experiment when the prisoners all begin to use fowl language to personally attack the guards in order to make them angry. One last concept is that this experiment was ran as a total institution. “A total institution is an organization that is cut off from the rest of society and one in which resident individuals are subject to strict control (Goffman 1961)” (Andersen, Taylor, 134). This relates to the ethical part of the experiment of how the prisoners were cut off from the outside world but they also had to deal with the strict control from the

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