The Implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment for Humanity in the Long Run

1282 Words 6 Pages
The Implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment for Humanity in the Long Run
In 1971 a group of 18 students took part in what was to become the
most controversial experiment of the decade. The students were divided
randomly into prisoners and wardens. The wardens were given complete
control of the prisoners and the experiment left to run. The idea of
the experiment was to find out the causes of such atrocities as the
Holocaust. Dr. Zimbardo, the conductor of the experiment, was
intrigued as to why normal Germans, who thought the idea of
extermination of all Jews was morally wrong, still allowed it to
happen and in extreme cases aided
…show more content…
At times the 'teachers' were reluctant to
continue but under the authority of an overseer they would carry on.
At one point one of the 'teachers' shouted out "Who will take
responsibility if this guy gets hurt?" to which the overseer replied
"I will take full responsibility, please continue." This showed the
conclusion to Stanley Milgram's experiment. The authority of the
overseer took away all responsibility from the 'teacher' because they
could hide behind the overseer as he had accepted responsibility for
the experiment, despite the fact that it was the 'teacher' that had
administered the shocks.

It could also show that the overseer, a mysterious man in a white
coat, presents such a solid authority that the 'teacher' could not
disobey his orders. This experiment can prove that not only is it
Germans and Sadists who could commit such atrocities as the Holocaust,
as previously believed in the light of World War II, but that anyone
could as they took it as "only following orders." This is what
Zimbardo was later to investigate further in the Stanford Prison
Experiment.

This idea of following orders and "bondage with ease" is also explored
by William Golding in his novel "Lord of the Flies." In Dr. Zimbardo's
prison, the prison guard Dave Eshleman, nicknamed 'John Wayne' because
of his cruel and degrading attitudes…