The Zimbardo Experiment Summary

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In the summer of 1971, male college students were seeked for a “psychological study of prison life” led by Philip Zimbardo (Zimbardo). Zimbardo, then a psychology professor at Stanford University, aimed to investigate how willingly people would adhere to the roles of guard and prisoner in a simulated prison. Of more than 75 applicants, 21 law-abiding, physically healthy and emotionally stable students were chosen. They were each to be paid $15 a day and the experiment was set to run for one to two weeks in the basement of Stanford’s psychology building. Participants were divided into 10 prisoners and 11 guards by the flip of a coin. Hidden microphones and a camera were used to record much of the interaction between guards and prisoners.

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