The Ethics of the Stanford Prison Experiment Essay

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When put into the position of complete authority over others people will show their true colors. I think that most people would like to think that they would be fair, ethical superiors. I know I would, but learning about the Stanford Prison Experiment has made me question what would really happen if I was there. Would I be the submissive prisoner, the sadistic guard, or would I stay true to myself? As Phillip Zimbardo gave the guards their whistles and billy clubs they drastically changed without even realizing it. In order to further understand the Stanford Prison experiment I learned how the experiment was conducted, thought about the ethical quality of this experiment, and why I think it panned out how it did.
To begin the experiment
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I believe that although valuable information came from it, the ethical quality of this experiment is very questionable. I suspected that the guards would turn more authoritative than any of them would have in real life, but I never thought that they would go as far as ridiculing some prisoners to tears. Although there were none of the prisoners had any long term effects from participating, while in the experiment they would be harassed and punished for no reason, which is where I think the experiment should have been discontinued. Control of the experiment was lost as everybody involved, including Zimbardo became completely engulfed in their roles of the prison. This really makes me question Zimbardo and the other researchers to how they could be too involved in their own experiment to stop the experiment when it began to grow out of control. I think that in the experiment the guards showed who they really were. None of them would have acted that way in their own lives. Zimbardo watched all of this on a hidden camera, and didn’t do anything until long after I along with many others think it should have been. It’s not only that the participants didn’t see the unethical characteristics of this experiment, a priest that was called in and the prisoners parents that came for a visitation day didn’t protest the treatment of their sons after hearing stories of the mock prison. There is something about these symbols of
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