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The Stanford Prison Experiment: Philip Zimbardo

1937 words - 8 pages

You’re sitting at your house, you hear a knock at the door. You go and open it and to your surprise it’s the police. They’re turning you around and placing cold metal handcuffs on you while you’re getting read your miranda rights and spread eagle against the cop car while you’re searched. You’re being slung into the back of a cop car and driven to the police station, sirens wailing. When you arrive you get your picture taken, but you don’t smile. They take your finger and dip it in ink, then push it down hard on a piece of paper. They then put you back into the police car and drive you to another location. You’re still handcuffed, and you’re taken in. They put you in a dress, they put cold, heavy, loud shackles on your ankles. They make you put pantyhose on your head, and put rubber shoes on your feet. Then, last but not least, they place you in a small room with a bed thats nailed to the floor and a metal toilet which is also nailed to the floor. They close the metal bars behind you and it’s loud. Then all you can hear are the chains of your neighbors. All of this, and you're innocent. These are the events that happened to twenty four college males who participated in the Stanford Prison Experiment. This is just one example of many controversial psychological experiments. Certain psychological experiments suggest major controversy and their methods should be reconsidered.
The example above took place in 1971. Philip Zimbardo, the head administrator of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California conducted this experiment with the help of some other professors at the university, and twenty four male college students from the university. The initial purpose of the experiment was to examine the effect of roles. Zimbardo wanted to determine whether the participants would eventually involuntarily behave similar to the roles that they were asked to play. The university put out ads in the local newspaper asking for volunteers to help with an experiment focusing on the psychological effect of prison life. The ad promised the volunteers fifteen dollars per day to participate in the experiment. Seventy volunteers came forward and responded to the ad. Every single one of them were given diagnostic interviews to help rule out any forms of psychological problems, such as: anxiety, depression, medical disabilities, or a history of drug use or criminal behavior. This eliminated unfit volunteers for being apart of the experiment and future problems. After all the interviews only twenty four students were qualified to participate in the experiment. The group was randomly divided and by the flip of a coin the two groups were assigned to be either prisoners or guards. Zimbardo wanted to make it clear to the two groups that at the beginning there was nothing different about the boys. As the experiment went on, however, that would change. The students were taken into a room at the Palo Alto police station and former prisoners and former...

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