The Stanford Prison Experiment: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

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The Stanford Prison Experiment:
Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

By Rawan Farook

We tend to think that there are two types of people, the good guys, and the bad guys. Both groups are believed to be born with specific characteristics that make them who they are or defines the way they behave and that whoever is in one category stays there no matter what. However, Dr. Philip Zimbardo didn’t believe so. And accordingly, he conducted an experiment to test the hypothesis that states; if a normal, healthy and stable minded man was given too much power would turn into a ruthless oppressor. I will be giving a closer look on Zimbardo’s experiment and its results.

The Experiment
In the morning of one of Augusts’ sunny summer days of 1971, nine young men came across local police officers at Palo Alto. With the neighbors watching, they were arrested for burglary and robbery; searched, handcuffed, and led into multiple police cars. The cars then reared to Palo Alto. Once they reached, the men were booked as inmates. And their fingerprints were taken. They were then moved to holding cells, blindfolded; they were taken to the Stanford County Prison-otherwise known as the Stanford psychology experimental prison. They were prepared candidates in Zimbardo’s prison experiment.
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Philip Zimbardo. It all started back in 1971 when Zimbardo and his colleague researchers began by preparing the psycho department's basement as a part of a prison. They turned 3 offices into cells with prison doors and 3 beds per cell. And when the setup was ready, they published a job advertisement stating:
"Male college students needed for psychological study of prison life. $15 per day for 1-2 weeks" - (Stanford magazine,

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