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

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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
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