The Stanford Prison Psychology Experiment

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The Stanford Prison Experiment is a very much talked about experiment and topic when it comes to psychology. The experiment itself really changed the world of psychology and how we meet certain standards when it comes to practicing certain experiments. This experiment is very notorious for shaping psychology for what it is today.

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Stanford Prison Experiment

The experiment itself took place in the 1970s at Stanford University. Philip Zimbardo was the main one to come up with and conduct the experiment. To be apart of the actual experiment you had to basically audition to be involved. You had to have a clean record and not any kind of mental disorders. When everyone was selected to be able to participate in the experiment the men were either going to play a guard or a prisoner.

The first thing the men did when they got assigned their role was get changed into their appropriate garments for the role. The guards were required to wear dark sunglasses so the prisoners could not look them in the eyes. It was apart of a dehumanizing aspect they were trying to accomplish. The prisoners on the other hand were required to wear these thin gowns and that was it. They were not allowed to wear any undergarments or anything.

Along with humiliating the prisoners with their clothes that they had to wear, the guards made them do embarrassing tasks. The guards were extremely rough with the prisoners. There were absolutely no boundaries. One task that they made these prisoners do was clean the toilet bowls with their bare hands.

The Stanford Prison Experiment quickly began escalading the moment it started. Besides dehumanizing the prisoners, the prisoners started to rebel. They would start to not follow orders from the guards.

While some prisoners would rebel and act aggressive, others would start to break down emotionally. The prisoners were at a stand still mentally and most of them could not take it anymore. Because the prisoners were turning against the guards and started to begin to go in distress, the experiment ended after just six days.

The experiment as a whole was completely unethical and cruel. There was not an exact method used in this experiment. The men that played the guards, turned in an actual guard during the experiment. The power went to the guards heads, and that is why they were being so cruel and unfair to the prisoners of the experiment. Zimbardo himself let the power get to him. He began to think that he was actually apart of the ‘prison” administration. It took him those six days to realize that what he was doing was wrong.
There were different people and students protesting to end the experiment because of its unethical standards. Because of this specific experiment the U.S. Department of Health and Education had to put into place that experiments such as these had to have ethical standards to avoid scenarios like this.

In conclusion, the Stanford Prison Experiment was definitely a cruel and inhumane experiment, but without it we would have ethical standards today. The experiment proves that people can really go into any state of mind, no matter how cruel it may be.

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The Stanford Prison Psychology Experiment. (2021, Mar 04). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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