Overview and Significance of Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment

1825 WordsJul 8, 20188 Pages
Overview and Significance of Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment Have you ever wondered why ordinary people do unusual things that seem alien to their natures? Why do good people sometimes act evil? Who do smart people sometimes do dumb or irrational things? Zimbardo is one of the most significant social psychologist and all his work aims to find the answers to these questions. The purpose of this paper is to go into depth on the previous prison experiment, how it came about, and how the findings play a role in society today. The Life and Times of Zimbardo Philip George Zimbardo was born in New York City on March 23, 1933. His parents originally migrated from a small town called Cammarata, about 40 miles from Palermo, Sicily. Stateside his…show more content…
Eventually the prisoners started rebelling, irritating the guards purposely, and that is when the study actually began. After around three days of the guards and the prisoners going back and forth prisoner 8612 had an emotional breakdown. Originally everyone thought that he was just a weak individual but looking back at it, five other prisoners started having emotional breakdowns as well. I think this stemmed from having all their freedom, their rights taking away over night. Having to clean toilets with your bare hands, and being humiliated sexually in front of your peers. On the fifth day of the study Zimbardo invited his girlfriend to come see the experiment and when she was down there she broke down crying and left because she witnessed bags over the prisoners head as they walked to the bathroom. She said, “It’s terrible what you are doing to those boys in tears.” At first Zimbardo didn’t realize what she meant so he defended his study stating that this is the natural humanistic way but when she said “I don’t want anything to do with you if this is the real you.” He then realized what he was doing was unethical and causing real psychological harm and that moment is when he stopped his study just six days in. Reality of the Simulation This brings up the question why do “good” people do bad things? Although this was an experiment, many feel to this day that this was the real deal. Prisoners believe they lost their true identity. One prisoner stated in
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