Philip Zimbardo Situational Theory

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In 1971, a social psychologist by the name of Phillip Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Study. Zimbardo researched the Abu Ghraib Prison problem took place in Iraq in 2003 and was made aware to the United States citizens in 2004. In fact, “the driving force behind this book was the need to better understand the how and why of the physical and psychological abuses perpetrated on the prisoners by American Military at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.” (Zimbardo 2007, p. 18) Zimbardo expressed that he believes we’re all capable of evil and uses several examples to back up his situational theory. He attempts to explain why people make the choice to partake in “evil” acts by using examples such as the rapes in Rwanda and China. The approach …show more content…
Since these students had no record of ever committing a crime, I can only assume that their action came from what they may have read or seen on TV. Also, if a person has never experience an authoritative role, they may become power hungry when they get a taste of what it’s like to be in control. The volunteers conformed to the stereotype formed from the knowledge they obtained about the prison system prior to joining this experiment. This is true for the guards as well as the prisoners alike. The prisoners entered this experiment knowing what could happen to a prison if he were to step of line. These presumptions about what prison is supposed to be had a tremendous impact on the volunteer’s actions during the experiment. The Milgram experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram comes to mind when I think about impact that a uniform and assumed position have on people. Milgram’s experiment researched “blind obedience of authority.”(Zimbardo 2007, 197) These individuals were told by a man in a “white lab coat” that they were administering painful and eventually deadly shocks to other individuals for incorrect answers. Since he seemed to have some type of authority due to his attire, participants went alone with what they believed to be real shocks. With each incorrect answer followed a shock with a voltage higher than the last. They later found that …show more content…
Upon viewing the photographic evidence, he admitted that he “was in shock but not surprised” because similar incidents had taken place in the experiment he help 3 decades prior. (Zimbardo 2007, p.19) In fact, Zimbardo stated that “the driving force behind this book was the need to better understand the how and why of the physical and psychological abuses perpetrated on prisoners by the American Military Police at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.” It was shocking for me to know that members of the military, those we hold to an extremely high regard, could partake in such acts. It is even more shocking that the government and news stations withheld some of the more explicit information and photographs because of the “greater damage it would have done to the credibility and moral image of the military and Bush administration.” (Zimbardo 2007,

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