The Standford Prison Experiment: Zimbardo's Experiment

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Naomi Withiam Prof. Mehrinfar English 1310-061 16 October 2017 Zimbardo's Experiment In 1971, Zimbardo conducted an experiment which is known as The Standford Prison Experiment. It took place in the basement of a psychology department, which was constructed to feel like an actual prison, and the participants were paid to either choose the role as a prisoner or guard in attempt to gaining a better understanding of human interaction and its effect on human behavior. Zimbardo predicted that from this experiment that the goodness in people would overcome the evil. However, the results proved otherwise. Though some may disagree with Zimbardo's interpretation of his experiment, it revealed that man's nature is evil because of their environment,…show more content…
For example, Tzu stated that "Whatever a man lacks in himself he will seek outside. But if a man is already rich, will not long for wealth, and if he is already eminent, he will not long for greater power. What a man already possesses in himself he will not bother to look for outside." (87). Just like in the experiment, the guards were capable of being tyrants which is why they changed their demeanor for their roles as authoritarian figures. For instance, the guards started practicing sadism by abusing their authority and using aggressive, demeaning language towards the prisoners. In addition to this, they began using brutality such as forcing them to do excessive excercises like scrubbing toilets in the middle of the night to prove their superiority to the prisoners. This portrayed how they lost their true sense of identity by fulfilling their new persona. The uniform's they wore, such as the sunglasses, also increased the sensibility that they lacked humanity and empathy. As for the inmates, they got to experience what it was like being institutionalized in an oppressive prison-like setting by which resulted in them to partake in abnormal behavior as well. Imprisonment and captivity caused them to become obedient and submissive towards the guards as they simulated to prison-life where they were humiliated and dehumanized…show more content…
Tzu states that, "any man who follows his nature and indulges his emotions will inevitably become involved in wrangling and strife, will violate the forms and rules of society, and will end as a criminal" (85). For example, Prisoner 8612 decided to barricade himself using his bed which he later was put in "the hole", which is solitary confinement, as a form of punishment. Later he urged Zimbardo to let him leave due to mental illness after having uncontrollable bursts and showing signs of emotional distress. This resulted in him terminating the experiment, allowing Zimbardo to benefit from his theory on human behavior. Whereas Prisoner 416 went on a hunger strike as a form of protest and as a result of this, it caused confrontation between him and the guards. Prisoner 416 later stated after the experiment in an interview with the guard who tormented him that, "It let me on some knowledge that I never experienced before first hand. Because I know what you can turn into, I know what you're willing to do." This reflection confirms the idea that people readily conform to the social roles they play in an environment and are forced to adapt, regardless of the

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