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Are prison officers evil? The prison simulation experiment

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Rohima Akhter Are prison officers evil? The prison simulation experiment The study that I am about to discuss was conducted by Zimbardo et al in 1973 Aim: The aim of this experiment was to discover the validity of the dispositional explanation. If "ordinary" people where located in a prison environment and some of these ordinary people where made to be the prison guards while others are the prisoners, how would these two groups of people behave? If they chose to behave in a non violent approach then this would support the dispositional theory. However if these ordinary people chose to behave the same way as real prisoners and prison guards in an actual prison, then this would support the situational hypothesis. Moreover we can see that the surrounding plays a important role in influencing behaviour. Procedure: A couple of male students volunteered for a psychological experiment of "prison life", and where to be paid $15 a day. ...read more.


In some cases this may make people more conformist because they conform to the social role of the uniform as with nurses or prison guards. Or people might feel less concerned about an individuals feelings because it can result in greater obedience to unjust authority.] Findings: The guards grew increasingly oppressive. These guards woke up prisoners in the middle of the night to clean up toilets with their bare hands, some guards even chose to do extra hours without pay. Many participants seem to forget that they where only acting. Even when they didn't realise that they where being watched they still played their roles. Five of the ten prisoners had to be released early due to depression such as crying and acute anxiety. Due to all this depression the whole experiment ended after 6 days despite the intention to continue for 2 weeks. Conclusions: The study appears to illustrate that both the guards and prisoners obeyed the rules to their social roles. ...read more.


In the fake prison the prisoners stopped responding due to the erratic decisions of the guards. The fact that the prisoners depended on the guards for absolutely everything weakened the prisoners and therefore this lead to the increase of their helplessness. Criticisms: The demand characteristic is a attribute of a study that in some way "invites" a participant to behave in a particular manner. The participants of this experiment took on roles of others because that is what they where asked to do. In reality the prisoner or the guard may be less likely to act as the social role dictates. Instead they are more likely to adapt to the situation depending on their personal beliefs and the requests of the circumstance. A reasonable amount of prison guards later claimed that they where only acting. Therefore this means that this experiment might give us slight information about people's behaviour in real life. However we do have to question ourselves about why some of the prisoners became really stressed. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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