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What are the implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

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What are the implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment In 1971 Dr Philip Zimbardo conducted an experiment in the basement of Stanford University. This involved imprisoning nine volunteers in a mock up of Stanford prison, which was policed by nine guards (more volunteers). These guards had complete control over the prisoners. They could do anything to the prisoners, but use physical violence. The subjects were all students applying for summer jobs to get some money. To make it a fair test, the subjects were made to take psychological tests to make sure they were mentally fit. On the first day, the prisoner subjects were picked up by a panda car and arrested on a mass crackdown on violations of penal codes. They were arrested like normal suspects are arrested, given their legal rights and searched. They were then taken away in the panda car as many of their neighbours thought that they had actually done something wrong. Then he was given his rights at the station and was fingerprinted. He was then taken to a holding cell to think about what he had done On the second day the guards' behaviour began to degenerate so by the sixth day the experiment was cancelled. ...read more.


It also makes us conscious of what people are capable of whatever you think of them. The guards acted the worst in the middle of the night it is suggested that this is because the believed they were not being watched. It has been asked if what was learnt was worth the "sacrifice" of the people involved? I simply think it was worth the sacrifice. The people involved may have suffered mental anguish due to this experiment but they will die, and other people can take their place: but the knowledge gained will not be forgotten so easily. Also I think it is wrong to simply blame the experiment; there is nothing wrong with putting people in a false prison being controlled by other people. What was wrong was the evil the people in control exerted on the prisoners. The BBC has repeated the experiment, which some see as wrong. The repeat of the experiment has been "improved" by adding several safe guards to protect the prisoners from the guards. However these safe guards will reduce the reality of the experiment, which defies the point of conducting it. ...read more.


There is a connection between the Stanford prison experiment and the novel The Lord of the Flies as the both discuss "man's essential illness". In both the experiment and the novel the subjects are male, perhaps this could mean the essential illness belongs to man (I appreciate the novel could be refereeing to mankind). Therefore it suggests women do not posses this illness. It may be useful to repeat the experiment with female subjects. It would also be interesting to discover how people treat others of the opposite sex; will men restrain from exacting violence on women? (How long will our chauvinistic society last?). A reason for why the environment was so evil was that the prisoners were treated unfairly and the guards were given superiority over the prisoners for no reason. The prisoners and guards were not treated as equals. This would suggest a "good" environment would be one of complete equality, communism. Unfortunately communism only works in theory, as in practice there has always been a Stalin figure, which means there is not equality. If a system of complete equality can be established, it could bring an end to all evil created by man. By Pavan Shah ...read more.

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