Essay on Roles Of Guard And Prisoner During American Prisons

1206 Words Nov 2nd, 2016 5 Pages
One of the most widely cited experiments in the field of psychology is the Stanford Prison Experiment in which psychology professor Philip Zimbardo set out to study the assumption of roles in a contrived situation. The aim of the experiment was to investigate how readily people would conform to the roles of guard and prisoner in a role-playing exercise that simulated prison life. Zimbardo (1973) was interested in finding out whether the brutality reported among guards in American prisons was due to the sadistic personalities of the guards or had more to do with the prison environment. The independent variable is the random assignment of roles as either prison guard or prisoner, also named ‘single treatment variable’ assigned in the SPE to either role as a ‘condition’. The dependent variable is the measured individual- and group behavior in its response. The independent variable acts as the cause while the dependent variable represents the effect or measured outcome of the experiment.
For example, prisoner and guards may have personalities which make conflict inevitable, with prisoners lacking respect for law and order and guards being domineering and aggressive. Alternatively, prisoners and guards may behave in a hostile manner due to the rigid power structure of the social environment in prisons. If the prisoners and guards behaved in a non-aggressive manner this would support the dispositional hypothesis, or if they behave the same way as people do in real prisons this…

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