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Haney, Banks and Zimbardo (prison simulation)

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Psychology Essay - Sampling Haney, Banks and Zimbardo (prison simulation) i) The method of selecting the sample for the prison simulation study was very extensive - it began very simply, with a newspaper advert offering $15 a day to take part in a psychological study on 'prison life', and progressed from there. 75 potential subjects responded to the ad, and of these, 22 were finally selected to take part in the study. They were made to complete an extensive questionnaire, designed to find out about their family background, physical and mental health history, and their experiences with and attitude towards psychopathological tendencies (including any criminal history). Every respondent was also interviewed by one of the experimenters. The final selection were chosen because they appeared to the experimenters to be the most mature and mentally and physically stable, and the least likely to become involved in antisocial behaviour. Therefore, they were chosen on the basis of their 'normality', to demonstrate the effects that prison life could have on apparently ordinary, non-criminal people. The subjects were described as 22 'normal, healthy male college students', all of who happened to be in the Stanford area during the summer the study was carried out. They were mostly of middle-class socio-economic status, and Caucasian (with the exception of one Oriental man), and prior to the study, they were all strangers. ...read more.


From the beginning, the newspaper ad asked for only male participants, proving it impossible for the sample to become truly representative. It was also only applicable to students in the Stanford area, which erases quite a large portion of the world. It then went on to narrow down the already-limited sample to people who were mature, non-violent, and mentally and physically stable - and in the end, produced an incredibly limited selection of people. iii) There are many problems with sampling in psychological studies, the most evident of which is the almost impossible task of getting a representative sample. No matter how close the sample is to being representative - it could include thousands of people, of all ages, genders, and races - there would undoubtedly be something about it that made it unacceptable as a representative sample. The only way to do it, really, would be to subject every person in the world to the same psychology study - which is essentially impossible, and definitely a waste of time. This problem is made evident in almost every study that we've investigated so far - for example, Loftus and Palmer's study on automobile destruction. In their second experiment, they used a wide range of subjects - a hundred and fifty - with a fairly equal variation of genders. ...read more.


It's possible that it would end up in a small-scale war between the guards and the prisoners, with each group firmly uniting against the other, and the abuse going beyond the level it did with males. Whereas men are more likely to deal with issues like that alone, women are far more likely to group together. It could also result in the guards ignoring the prisoners, and the prisoners socialising with each other. As women are generally more open and talkative than men, I find it much easier to believe that they'd spend their time in the cells talking amongst themselves and discussing their lives outside the study, rather than talking of little else other than the guards' treatment of them, as the men did. This would prove the original hypothesis completely wrong, confirming that it was the people inside the prison who make it a bad place to be, and not the general atmosphere. Finally, the change in sample could result in complete interaction between the prisoners and the guards, splitting off into separate social groups which did not concern the study. As women who are bored tend to start talking as quickly as possible (women at bus stops, or in queues, for example), it would be unsurprising to see that the roles made no difference whatsoever to who interacted with who. ...read more.

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