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We wanted to see what the psychological effects were of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. To do this, we decided to set up a simulated prison and then carefully note the effects of this institution on the behavior of all those within its walls. The team selected the 24 applicants whose test results predicted they would be the most psychologically stable and healthy.
The prison had two fabricated walls, one at the entrance, and one at the cell wall to block observation. They were given rest and relaxation areas, and other comforts. Twelve of the 24 participants were assigned the role of prisoner 9 plus 3 potential substituteswhile the other 12 were assigned the role of guard also 9 plus 3 potential substitutes.
Zimbardo took on the role of the superintendent, and an undergraduate research assistant the role of the warden. Zimbardo designed the experiment in order to induce disorientationdepersonalizationand deindividuation in the participants.
The researchers held an orientation session for guards the day before the experiment, during which guards were instructed not to harm the prisoners physically or withhold food or drink. In the footage of the study, Zimbardo can be seen talking to the guards: In general what all this leads to is a sense of powerlessness.
Prisoners wore uncomfortable, ill-fitting smocks and stocking caps, as well as a chain around one ankle.
Guards were instructed to call prisoners by their assigned numbers, sewn on their uniforms, instead of by name. The prisoners were "arrested" at their homes and "charged" with armed robbery. The local Palo Alto police department assisted Zimbardo with the arrests and conducted full booking procedures on the prisoners, which included fingerprinting and taking mug shots.
The prisoners were transported to the mock prison from the police station, where they were strip searched and given their new identities.
The small mock prison cells were set up to hold three prisoners each. There was a small corridor for the prison yard, a closet for solitary confinement, and a bigger room across from the prisoners for the guards and warden. The prisoners were to stay in their cells and the yard all day and night until the end of the study.
The guards worked in teams of three for eight-hour shifts. The guards were not required to stay on site after their shift. Guards had differing responses to their new roles.
Dave Eshelman, described by Stanford Magazine as "the most abusive guard" felt his aggressive behavior was helping experimenters to get what they wanted.
John Mark, who had joined the experiment hoping to be selected as a prisoner, instead recalls "At that time of my life, I was getting high, all day every day I brought joints with me, and every day I wanted to give them to the prisoners. I looked at their faces and saw how they were getting dispirited and I felt sorry for them.
Guards from other shifts volunteered to work extra hours, to assist in subduing the revolt, and subsequently attacked the prisoners with fire extinguishers without being supervised by the research staff.
Finding that handling nine cell mates with only three guards per shift was challenging, one of the guards suggested they use psychological tactics to control them. They set up a "privilege cell" in which prisoners who were not involved in the riot were treated with special rewards, such as higher quality meals.
The "privileged" inmates chose not to eat the meal in commiseration with their fellow prisoners. After only 36 hours, one prisoner began to act "crazy", as Zimbardo described: It took quite a while before we became convinced that he was really suffering and that we had to release him.
Guards soon used these prisoner counts to harass the prisoners, using physical punishment such as protracted exercise for errors in the prisoner count. As punishment, the guards would not let the prisoners empty the sanitation bucket.
Mattresses were a valued item in the prison, so the guards would punish prisoners by removing their mattresses, leaving them to sleep on concrete. Some prisoners were forced to be naked as a method of degradation.
Several guards became increasingly cruel as the experiment continued; experimenters reported that approximately one-third of the guards exhibited genuine sadistic tendencies.
Most of the guards were upset when the experiment was halted after only six days. Zimbardo mentions his own absorption in the experiment.
On the fourth day, some of the guards stated they heard a rumor that the released prisoner was going to come back with his friends and free the remaining inmates. Zimbardo and the guards disassembled the prison and moved it onto a different floor of the building.
Zimbardo himself waited in the basement, in case the released prisoner showed up, and planned to tell him that the experiment had been terminated.Jul 17, · Watch video · In , twenty-four male students are selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building/10(30K).
Method. To conduct the Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo constructed a mock correctional facility in the basement of Stanford University. Adverts were placed in local newspapers offering $15 per day for participants in this program.
The appeal of the experiment has a lot to do with its apparently simple setup: prisoners, guards, a fake jail, and some ground rules.
But, in reality, the Stanford County Prison was a heavily. The mock prison was constructed in the Stanford Psychology Department. Zimbardo himself was an active participant of the experiment – he was the prison superintendent and his research assistant was the warden.
The Stanford Prison Experiment. By Saul McLeod, updated Zimbardo converted a basement of the Stanford University psychology building into a mock prison. He advertised asking for volunteers to participate in a study of the psychological effects of prison life.
"The Stanford Prison Experiment", by Philip K. Zimbardo, describes and experiment that studied authority and obedience. On a nice summer morning, students from Palo Alto were arrested and put in the "Stanford County Prison"/5(6).