Stanford Prison Experiment | Simply Psychology
The Stanford Prison Experiment has long been held up as an this treatment, because the guards went home at the end of their shifts. So the. A review of the Stanford Prison Experiment, out in wide release this participant to exit the experiment or end the study all together—and. The Stanford Prison Experiment: Still powerful after all these years She was involved in a romantic relationship with Zimbardo, the experiment's principal So I went around to the other end of the hall where some guards.
That is, we lived the experiment.
Because there are endless logistical things to do — prisoners have to be fed morning, lunch, evening. In order to make it realistic we had parole board hearings two times, with an ex-convict heading it.
The secretaries had visiting days two times, with parents, boyfriends, girlfriends. We had a visiting by a prison chaplain… But the changes are gradual. The changes occur, as I said, a little bit more each day.
You mentioned that your two-week study was terminated after just six days; why did you make the decision to conclude the study at the point that you did? So in fact, they had to leave out many traumatic scenes. There were no scenes that had to be put in for the drama. If anything, they left out a lot of what I consider powerful scenes, which they actually had in and it just went too long so they had to cut it out. What was your involvement with the making of the movie?
From the beginning, I was the consultant. I reviewed the script; I made significant changes in the script; I contributed to the script. And I was on the set a couple of days. And even when the film was shown at Sundance, there were several parts of the movie which were just wrong psychologically, and then also we added the screen credits.
Several things which are now in the movie. There have been several documentaries and informational videos made about the experiment, but this is more of a motion picture than a documentary. How do you think the dramatization of the experiment affects the events and conclusions that are presented?
Are they easier to relate to for the audience? Our movie sticks essentially to the facts… So the movie, then, is a dramatic recreation. But it has the visiting days. It has the parole board hearing. It has at least one scene of the police arrest. It has the interaction of me and my staff making group decisions about what we should do with certain prisoners. Asserting Independence Because the first day passed without incident, the guards were surprised and totally unprepared for the rebellion which broke out on the morning of the second day.
During the second day of the experiment, the prisoners removed their stocking caps, ripped off their numbers, and barricaded themselves inside the cells by putting their beds against the door.
Stanford Prison Experiment - Roles Define Your Behavior
The guards called in reinforcements. The three guards who were waiting on stand-by duty came in and the night shift guards voluntarily remained on duty. Putting Down the Rebellion The guards retaliated by using a fire extinguisher which shot a stream of skin-chilling carbon dioxide, and they forced the prisoners away from the doors.
Next, the guards broke into each cell, stripped the prisoners naked and took the beds out. The ringleaders of the prisoner rebellion were placed into solitary confinement. After this, the guards generally began to harass and intimidate the prisoners.
Special Privileges One of the three cells was designated as a "privilege cell. The guards gave them back their uniforms and beds and allowed them to wash their hair and brush their teeth. Privileged prisoners also got to eat special food in the presence of the other prisoners who had temporarily lost the privilege of eating.
The effect was to break the solidarity among prisoners. Consequences of the Rebellion Over the next few days, the relationships between the guards and the prisoners changed, with a change in one leading to a change in the other.
Remember that the guards were firmly in control and the prisoners were totally dependent on them. As the prisoners became more dependent, the guards became more derisive towards them. They held the prisoners in contempt and let the prisoners know it. As the prisoners became more submissive, the guards became more aggressive and assertive. They demanded ever greater obedience from the prisoners. The prisoners were dependent on the guards for everything so tried to find ways to please the guards, such as telling tales on fellow prisoners.
Prisoner Less than 36 hours into the experiment, Prisoner began suffering from acute emotional disturbance, disorganized thinking, uncontrollable crying, and rage.
A Visit from Parents The next day, the guards held a visiting hour for parents and friends. They were worried that when the parents saw the state of the jail, they might insist on taking their sons home. Guards washed the prisoners, had them clean and polish their cells, fed them a big dinner and played music on the intercom. After the visit, rumor spread of a mass escape plan. Afraid that they would lose the prisoners, the guards and experimenters tried to enlist the help and facilities of the Palo Alto police department.
The guards again escalated the level of harassment, forcing them to do menial, repetitive work such as cleaning toilets with their bare hands. Catholic Priest Zimbardo invited a Catholic priest who had been a prison chaplain to evaluate how realistic our prison situation was. Half of the prisoners introduced themselves by their number rather than name.
The chaplain interviewed each prisoner individually. The priest told them the only way they would get out was with the help of a lawyer. Prisoner Eventually while talking to the priest, broke down and began to cry hysterically, just two previously released prisoners had. The psychologists removed the chain from his foot, the cap off his head, and told him to go and rest in a room that was adjacent to the prison yard.
They told him they would get him some food and then take him to see a doctor. While this was going on, one of the guards lined up the other prisoners and had them chant aloud: Because of what Prisoner did, my cell is a mess, Mr.
The psychologists tried to get him to agree to leave the experiment, but he said he could not leave because the others had labeled him a bad prisoner. Back to Reality At that point, Zimbardo said, "Listen, you are not You are [his name], and my name is Dr.
I am a psychologist, not a prison superintendent, and this is not a real prison. This is just an experiment, and those are students, not prisoners, just like you. An End to the Experiment Zimbardo had intended that the experiment should run for a fortnight, but on the sixth day it was terminated. Christina Maslach, a recent Stanford Ph. Filled with outrage, she said, "It's terrible what you are doing to these boys!
Therefore, the findings support the situational explanation of behavior rather than the dispositional one. At that time of my life, I was getting high, all day every day. I got high before I went to the experiment; I got high on my breaks and lunch. I got high afterwards. 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.
I didn't think it was ever meant to go the full two weeks. I think Zimbardo wanted to create a dramatic crescendo, and then end it as quickly as possible. I felt that throughout the experiment, he knew what he wanted and then tried to shape the experiment—by how it was constructed, and how it played out—to fit the conclusion that he had already worked out.
He wanted to be able to say that college students, people from middle-class backgrounds—people will turn on each other just because they're given a role and given power. Based on my experience, and what I saw and what I felt, I think that was a real stretch. I don't think the actual events match up with the bold headline. I never did, and I haven't changed my opinion. He went on to become a professor at UC-Santa Cruz, a leading authority on the psychological effects of incarceration and an advocate for prison reform.
There were moments, in the course of deciding about whether to do it, where we wavered. Not because we thought it would go too far or be too dramatic, but because we weren't sure anything was going to happen. I remember at one point asking, "What if they just sit around playing guitar for two weeks? What the hell are we going to do then?
We didn't—and we were not naive. We were very well read in the literature. We just did not anticipate these kinds of things happening. It really was a unique experience to watch human behavior transform in front of your eyes. And I can honestly say that I try never to forget it. I spend a lot of time with real prisoners and real guards, and having seen what I saw then, while a graduate student, gave me respect for the power of institutional environments to transform good people into something else.
I also realized how quickly we get used to things that are shocking one day and a week later become matter-of-fact. During the study, when we decided to move prisoners to different parts of the prison, we realized that they were going to see where they were and be reminded they're not in a prison—they're just in the psych building at Stanford.
We didn't want that to happen. So we put paper bags over their heads. The first time I saw that, it was shocking. By the next day we're putting bags on their heads and not thinking about it. That happens all the time in real correctional facilities. You get used to it. I do a lot of work in solitary-confinement units, on the psychological effects of supermax prisons. In places like that, when prisoners undergo the so-called therapy counseling, they are kept in actual cages.
I constantly remind myself never to get used to seeing the cages. The prisoners in this study were a downtrodden lot by the end of it. Even the guys who didn't break down were hurting. This was a really difficult experience. And for me that was a lesson, too.
Real prisoners learn how to mask their pain and act like it doesn't matter. The prison study showed what it feels like for people who have not learned how to wear that implacable mask.
I try to talk to prisoners about what their lives are really like, and I don't think I would have come to that kind of empathy had I not seen what I saw at Stanford.
If someone had said that in six days you can take 10 healthy college kids, in good health and at the peak of resilience, and break them down by subjecting them to things that are commonplace and relatively mild by the standards of real prisons—I'm not sure I would have believed it, if I hadn't seen it happen. The Prisoner Richard Yacco A community college student at the time, Yacco helped instigate a revolt against conditions in Zimbardo's prison.
He was released one day early from the study after exhibiting signs of depression. After working in radio and television production, he now teaches at a public high school in Oakland.
At the time I was debating: If I were drafted to fight in Vietnam, what would I do? Would I be willing to go to jail? Since that was one of the considerations, I thought, well, a prison experiment would give me some insight into what that would be like.
The first thing that really threw me off was the sleep deprivation. When they woke us up the first time, I had no idea it was after only four hours of sleep.
It was only after they got us up and we did some exercises and then they let us go back to bed that I realized they were messing with our sleep cycles. That was kind of a surprise from the first night. Toni Gauthier I don't recall exactly when the prisoners started rebelling. I do remember resisting what one guard was telling me to do and being willing to go into solitary confinement.
As prisoners, we developed solidarity—we realized that we could join together and do passive resistance and cause some problems. It was that era. I had been willing to go on marches against the Vietnam war, I went on marches for civil rights, and was trying to figure out what I would do to resist even going into the service.
So in a way I was testing some of my own ways of rebelling or standing up for what I thought was right. My parents came on visitors' night. They were really concerned with the way I looked. I told them that they're breaking up our sleep, that we weren't having the chance to take showers. My appearance really concerned both of my parents, my mother especially.
When I asked [Zimbardo's team] what I could do if I wanted to quit, I was told, "You can't quit—you agreed to be here for the full experiment.
I realized I had made a commitment to something that I now could not change. I had made myself a prisoner. I ended up being paroled by the "parole board. That's when they told me they were going to end the experiment the next day. What I learned later is that the reason they chose me [to parole] is because they thought I'd be the next guy to break down.
I was surprised, because I never thought I was going through any kind of depression or anything like that. One thing that I thought was interesting about the experiment was whether, if you believe society has assigned you a role, do you then assume the characteristics of that role?
I teach at an inner city high school in Oakland. These kids don't have to go through experiments to witness horrible things. But what frustrates my colleagues and me is that we are creating great opportunities for these kids, we offer great support for them, why are they not taking advantage of it? Why are they dropping out of school?
Why are they coming to school unprepared?