Friday, August 22, 2008

Stanford Prison Experiment

I believe many people remember or have heard about the Stanford Prison Experiment led by Professor Philip Zimbardo at Palo Alto on August, 1971. The experiment that is now reported here shows a group of students randomly selected to be either prisoners or guards with the intention of studying the psychological effects of both groups in a simulated prison environment:
"Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please join me on a slide tour describing this experiment and uncovering what it tells us about the nature of human nature."

"I ended the study prematurely for two reasons. First, we had learned through videotapes that the guards were escalating their abuse of prisoners in the middle of the night when they thought no researchers were watching and the experiment was "off." Their boredom had driven them to ever more pornographic and degrading abuse of the prisoners."
I think I don't need to name the kind of prisoners and warders I have on my mind now. I wish it was brought to public attention the extent of violence that happens... you know where.


Shiv said...

The Stanford Prison Experiment had a shocking result which showed us more about the brutal nature of humans than we ever wanted to know. Nasty stuff.
Have you ever seen the german film Das Experiment? It's a rather disturbing take on Stanford Prison Experiment and the kind of thing that might have happened had the experiment not been halted.

Ana said...

I haven't seen Das Experiment. It's really disturbing and I ask myself how would I behave if I was chosen to be a guard.
I fear behaving with the my violent side.
I can't figure myself beating or humiliating people but I can be very "emphatic" and get angry defending my ideals.
What if during this process these "ideals" got a different course?
This is pretty scary!