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'Compare and contrast the ethical issues raised by Milgram's experiments on obedience and Zimbardo's prison experiment'.

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  • Essay length: 1831 words
  • Submitted: 19/06/2006
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University Degree Psychometrics

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Tom Fairfield

'Compare and contrast the ethical issues raised by Milgram's experiments on obedience and Zimbardo's prison experiment'

The Zimbardo experiment took place in the summer of 1971 in Stanford University, California, and is one of the most famous contemporary social-psychological experiments. It was presided over by Philip Zimbardo and involved a group of eighteen students, nine of whom were assigned the role of prison warders and the remaining nine as prisoners. The basement of the university was turned in to a prison complete with recording surveillance equipment.

The experiment was originally meant to last two weeks but was halted prematurely after six days. Zimbardo had become increasingly concerned by the behaviour of both prisoners and wardens, one of the volunteer prisoners describing the guards as 'Nazis'.

Stanley Milgram's study on the conflict between obedience and personal conscience took place in 1965 and was equally controversial. The experiment was 'officially' about learning and memory. Volunteers were assigned the role of 'teacher' delivering electric shocks to 'learners' under the premise that they were exploring the effects of punishment on learning behaviour. The 'learners' unbeknown to the 'teachers' were actors.

The 'teachers' were asked to

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