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Philip Zimbardo is the psychologist that conducted the prison simulation experiment which was intending to discover how much of human behaviour is determined by the social roles that we occupy.

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  • Essay length: 1220 words
  • Submitted: 14/08/2003
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AS and A Level Social Psychology

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Philip Zimbardo is the psychologist that conducted the prison simulation experiment which was intending to discover how much of human behaviour is determined by the social roles that we occupy.

Zimbardo placed an advert in a newspaper which asked for male volunteers to participate in a psychological study of prison life. 75 people responded to the advert, these people completed a questionnaire and had an interview. This was designed to screen the subjects. The description of the 24 chosen subjects was described as 'normal' healthy, male, college students who were predominantly white and middle class. The subjects were told that the experiment was for a study of prison life but were not told that it was also an investigation into how people adapt to roles and how people's behaviour is affected by the roles that they occupy. This is a form of deception which breaks the ethical guidelines, but can be justified because the subjects would have behaved differently if they ha known the full reasons behind the experiment.

The simulated prison was made at Stanford University in the basement of the psychology department. Three 6ft x 9ft cells were created with three prisoners assigned t each

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