Stanford Prison Experiment

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Connor Knotts Psychology 1101 Dr. John Achee 2/28/2012 The Stanford Prison Experiment A professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Philip K. Zimbardo, wanted to see how people who were morally straight, physically healthy, and mentally sane would react when placed in a negative environment. Zimbardo was curios to see if the negative environment came to control ones behavior, or does that person’s attitude and morals allow them to rise above the negative situation. To answer this question, Zimbardo came up with The Stanford Prison Experiment. The Stanford Prison Experiment began with Zimbardo converting the basement of Stanford’s psychology department into a prison. He then randomly selected college students to act as either prisoners or guards for this prison for two weeks. The only instructions Zimbardo gave were for the guards to maintain law and order. Expecting the prisoners to rebel and rise above the negative environment, Zimbardo was shocked to see the exact opposite occur. After a few short days, the prisoners really believed they were locked inside a prison. To the prisoners, the guards had all the power and they felt as if they were supposed to submit to the guards will. On the other hand, the guards, also being good people, displayed rather heinous behavior. Being in a position of power, almost instantly corrupted the college students who were playing the role of the guards. The experiment was projected to last two weeks, but Zimbardo had to end the experiment after only six days due to such dramatic results. After the experiment Zimbardo thoroughly analyzed what had happened. He found that even when good people are placed in an evil and negative environment; the people essentially are consumed by the evil. All of the test subjects, both guards and prisoners, became mentally confined by their roles in the experiment. When the students
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