Zimbardo’s Prison Study Essay

1144 Words Dec 8th, 2012 5 Pages
Abstract
In 1971, a Stanford University psychology professor named Philip Zimbardo and a team of researchers conducted an unorthodox study involving 24 male college students who would later be convinced that they were prison inmates and prison guards in less than 24 hours. This study was voluntarily cut short after only six days due to the unexpected results which were found.













Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment of August 1971 quickly became a classic. Using realistic methods, Zimbardo and others were able to create a prison atmosphere that transformed its participants. The young men who played prisoners and guards revealed how many circumstances can distort individual personalities
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Other ways in which the study was flawed included the fact that Dr. Phillip Zimbardo poorly designed a program in which he also participated; Several times, he was surprised by his insensitive and authoritarian actions. The designer of the project should never be a participant, but only an observer. If he has bias, he should have others observe him. Dr. Phillip Zimbardo definitely had bias. In fact, many of his actions created the conditions that he then reported in "horror". A perfect example of this was proven when Dr. Zimbardo also showed anger with the Palo Alto police department when they would not comply with his insane requests of housing his “prisoners” temporarily as a rumor of an attempted prison break arose. Other flaws included having an ex-convict / advisor as the head of the "parole board" hearings. This was a man who spent sixteen years being turned down by an authoritarian parole board member. In addition, the “priest and psychologist” who arrived to assess the prisoners were roommates of Dr. Zimbardo.
In spite of all of the above, the study only lasted six days. This study made Dr. Zimbardo's career and yet what prisoners really go on a hunger strike on the 4th day? What prisoners really rebel on the second day after less than 24 hours in prison? This was a very politically active time in the USA, especially in the Stanford, Berkeley area. These were not the low I.Q., low education individuals that had a long experience with the legal system. They…