Stanford Prison Experiment Report

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Report on the Stanford Prison Experiment for PSYC 1111 The Office of Naval Research sponsored a study at Stanford University to "develop a better understanding of the basic psychological mechanisms underlying human aggression" and to identify which conditions can lead to aggression when men are living in close quarters for a long period of time (Haney, C., Banks, W.C. & Zimbardo, P.G. (1973)). This experiment took form within a model prison created in the basement at Stanford University to discover the variables found in prisons that can lead to aggression in people, i.e. guards and prisoners. The hypothesis explored was that ‘guards’ and ‘prisoners’ would react in different ways and their behavior and state of being would differ from each …show more content…
Of the 75 people who answered the ad, 24 were selected after answering a battery of questions regarding their family, personal and mental health history. The 24 selected were judged to be the “most stable…most mature, and least involved in anti-social behaviors” (Haney et al., 1973). These subjects were informed they would be randomly selected to play the role of ‘guard’ or ‘prisoner’ and that ‘prisoners’ should expect to be under close surveillance throughout the experiment, as well as lose some of their civil rights during their ‘imprisonment’. ‘Guards’ believed the purpose of the experiment was to study the behavior of prisoners. They were given a pseudo orientation during which they were informed of their work and administrative duties as ‘guards’. ‘Guards’ were given minimal guidelines so their interaction with ‘prisoners’ would be genuine in their role. The only explicit direction they received was regarding the prohibition of physical punishment towards the ‘prisoners’ to maintain the safety of all subjects within the mock prison. The behavior of both groups, was analyzed per the “transactions between and within each group of subjects, recorded on video and audio tape as well as directly observed; and individual reactions on questionnaires, mood inventories, personality tests, …show more content…
‘Prisoners’ on the other hand, lost their own identity in the process of becoming a ‘prisoner’. They lost sight of their own uniqueness and become like other ‘prisoners’. The also lost all sense of control because they felt unsure of how to react to the ‘guards’ and be perceived as defiant, and therefore be exposed to aggression from the ‘guards’. Finally, the loss of control within the mock prison, led them to realize they never want to lose power and control and therefore, they strive to gain control back in their lives

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