Monday, February 15, 2010

Stanford Prison Experiment

As I read about this social psychology experiment, I was simply shocked. Although I knew about the abuse that potentially could happen inside a prison, it was surprising that all 24 male college students could go under such a radical mental change within less than a week. The "prison guards" were given no specific regulation rules and somehow came up with brutal, not seemingly at first, ways to humiliate and torture the "prisoners" that became more sadistic over such a short period of time. It was interesting that the "prison guards" banded together to break down each prisoner and authorize their power without instruction. The long term effects of dehumanizing the prisoners was also very interesting. Months after the experiment had ended, some felt like that their prison number was more of a name than their actual names. How could 24 regular male college students change so drastically to fit into a role that they knew was experimental? It made me wonder, if put into a similar situation would I react the same way (at a mentally stable stage right now, I am 98% convinced I could mentally overcome it but then when I think about it more indepth, my convinced percentage rate slowly seems to decline)? Would similar results be found if the study was done with all women? And I was most interested about at the termination of the experiment, when all of the participants were put into a room to discuss what had happened, did the "prisoners" and "prison guards" consciously or unconsciously segregate?

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