The Implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment Essay

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The Implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment

In 1971 Dr Philip Zimbardo conducted an experiment in the basement of Stanford University. This involved imprisoning nine volunteers in a mock up of Stanford prison, which was policed by nine guards (more volunteers). These guards had complete control over the prisoners. They could do anything to the prisoners, but use physical violence. The subjects were all students applying for summer jobs to get some money. To make it a fair test, the subjects were made to take psychological tests to make sure they were mentally fit.

On the first day, the prisoner subjects were picked up by a panda car and arrested on a mass crackdown on violations of penal
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It showed that when given power, many will abuse it. This is very useful as we can apply these lessons to a real life situation, which could save thousands of people in a real prison. A conclusion of the experiment is that if you put good people in an evil and unfair place they will become evil. It also makes us conscious of what people are capable of whatever you think of them. The guards acted the worst in the middle of the night it is suggested that this is because the believed they were not being watched.

It has been asked if what was learnt was worth the "sacrifice" of the people involved? I simply think it was worth the sacrifice. The people involved may have suffered mental anguish due to this experiment but they will die, and other people can take their place: but the knowledge gained will not be forgotten so easily. Also I think it is wrong to simply blame the experiment; there is nothing wrong with putting people in a false prison being controlled by other people. What was wrong was the evil the people in control exerted on the prisoners.

The BBC has repeated the experiment, which some see as wrong. The repeat of the experiment has been "improved" by adding several safe guards to protect the prisoners from the guards. However these