The Stanford Prison Experiment Article Addresses The Psychology Of Power Essay

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The Stanford Prison Experiment article addresses the psychology of power by studying a model of the prisoner and guard relationship as represented by the American penal system. The authors, through a unique experiment involving volunteers who would play the roles of guards and prisoners in a somewhat realistic prison setting, hoped to provide empirical scientific evidence and information proving that the American penal system is not only dysfunctional and inherently flawed, but causes real and lasting harm to the temperament, attitude and personality of both the prisoners and the guards in American prisons.

At the time that the Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted, the general consensus of the advocates of the existing prison system was that “the nature of the people who administrate it, or the nature of the people who populate it, or both (Haney, 1973)” were directly responsible for the deplorable condition of the prison system in America; it was not the prison system that generated the difficulties within prisons, but rather, it was the inherent malignant character of the prisoners and the guards that caused the problems. The authors disagreed with this consensus. They believed that the current accepted evaluation of the prison system did not take into account the social, economic and political forces at play within the system, and that taking these complex aspects into consideration was vital to an accurate assessment and eventual improvement of the system.


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