Stanford Prison Experiment Ethical Violations

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The Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted in 1971 by researcher, Philip Zimbardo is one of the most eye-opening social studies done to this day. It’s purpose was to find out more about how the social principles of obedience and conformity can affect the behavior of a normal human being. Zimbardo wanted to discover how social customs and hierarchy affect the roles people play, in a prison setting (Lurgio, 2015, p.1866). Though their purpose seems praiseworthy, the experiment itself was not. It was filled with ethical violations and in just 6 days, spun out of control (Lurgio, 2015, p.1866). One of the most distinct ethical code violations in this study was Standard 3.04 in the American Psychological Association's list of principles. The standard …show more content…
The issue with this study is that its results were completely not what the researchers expected. They did not go into the study knowing that normal, college students would turn into fiendish monsters who would cause extreme amounts of stress onto other students. If they were aware of it, I am sure they would not have implemented that much torture just for a study. They would be aware of the consequences and controversy that would surface. Another reason why I think this is not completely intentional is because Zimbardo, himself, was caught up in the mess. He not only played the role of a sociologist, but also a warden. He got caught up into his role, like the experimentees, and could not fully understand the extent of his wrongdoings (Lurgio, 2015, p.1866). Despite these observations, there is no proper explanations to why Zimbardo did not stop the experiment once he saw the first mental breakdown, or when he first saw the perpetuated abuse. Him, being a professional, should have known that he was breaking major rules of ethics by the results of his experiment. He should have put a stop to it, and thought about it from an ethical perspective. Unlike the poor experimentees, he was able to serve two roles. He should have put his role as an ethical sociologist first, rather than his role as a warden. Additionally, sources show that Zimbardo encouraged abuse (Lurgio, 2015, …show more content…
If I was Zimbardo, I would have firstly set up some sort of guidelines for the guards. Rules against physical and mental abuse would be set into place to combat the breaking of Standard 3.04. With rules set into place preventing harm, the major amounts of stress and sadness exerted on the prisoners would have been avoided. This would have prevented emotional breakdowns that occurred to many prisoners in the real experiment. Another change I would make, would be towards my role as the sociologist. I would only serve the role of a sociologist/psychologist, and avoid any sort of conflicts of interest. I would have a third person party serve as the warden while I just watched from the outside. The distance and detachment from the experiment would give me a more proper mental state to see what was going on. I would be able to stay away from bias, and see the experiment from a more logical

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