Summary Of Zimbardo's Prison Experiment

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People often believe that bullies are individual sadists in society, who seek pleasure from other’s despair. Due to this common misconception, people fail to understand that an average citizen can become a bully based on the circumstantial factors in an atmosphere (Zimbardo, Lucifer). Various psychological experiments have proven that bullying occurs due to the presence of specific social factors in an environment. Anonymity is a primary social factor which promotes bullying, since it creates a lack of empathy in an atmosphere. The ignorance of authority figures is another social factor which causes bullying since it creates an acceptable environment for victimization. Above all, the presence of discrepancies in social roles provokes bullying,…show more content…
The effect of social discrepancies was evident in Zimbardo’s prison experiment. In the experiment, average college students were chosen to play the roles of prison guards and prisoners for two weeks. Within a few days the superior guards began to abuse the prisoners. They stripped the prisoners naked, made them clean their toilets with their hands and sexually taunted them. (Zimbardo Ted Talks) This experiment has shown how average students can be driven to abuse their fellow citizens when they are in roles of superiority. The presence of the power given by the roles allows the individual to abuse the power, creating an influenced environment. The same effect was also apparent in a segregation experiment done by an elementary teacher. During the experiment children with blue eyes were labeled as superior to those with brown eyes. Over the course of the experiment the blue eyed students began to exclude and taunt their classmates by calling them names such as “brown eyes”. (Zimbardo Lucifer 283) The execution of this experiment proves that even the purest souls, children, are driven to intentionally harm others in the presence of social discrepancies. One can clearly see that the results of the experiments show the prejudice created when individuals are labeled superior and inferior to others, consequently enforcing
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