Social Roles Have An Influence On People 's Behavior

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Stanford Prison Experiment

Professor Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) was conducted to determine how social roles have an influence on people’s behavior. This paper examines how this experiment was conducted and what can be learned from it.
In 1971 Professor Zimbardo wanted to ascertain why prison guards in the U.S. prison system were perpetuating brutality. Was it due to the natural characteristics and biochemical makeup of the guards, or did it have to do more so with the prison environment? Were in fact inmates personally changed due to the daily hardships and torments prison life sustained on their emotional and mental state of being? And what about the prison guards? Why did they act the way they did?

So, to study as genuinely and realistically as possible the cause and effect of this phenomenon, Professor Zimbardo converted one of the Stanford University basements into a prison. An advertisement was posted for students to take part in the experiment. 24 out of 75 candidates vetted for “psychological normality” were selected to play the roles of prison guards or prisoners.

Each participant would be paid $15 a day and the experiment was scheduled to occur over 14 days. The experiment was arranged and designed to be as realistic as possible from guards wearing officer’s uniforms and inmates wearing prisoner’s jumpsuits. Alas, the SPE didn’t even make it through the 6th day for a number of striking reasons.

The Stanford Prison Experiment, while
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