Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stanford Prison Experiment 3rd Discussion Question

3. What prevented "good guards" from objecting or countermanding the orders from tough or bad guards?

I think that the main reason why the “good guards” did not object to the tougher guards in the Stanford Prison Experiment was because their brutal treatment was not directed towards them. For example, when Prisoner 416 decided to go on a hunger strike and refused to eat his sausages, the guards punished him by putting him into “the hole,” which was a place for solidary confinement. The other prisoners were told to shout at Prisoner 416 and bang at the closet door for behaving poorly. Through this act and many other torturing situations the “bad guards” took control of punishing the prisoners and became increasingly sadistic. I think that the good guards actually feared objecting the bad guards because of the sadistic behavior they openly expressed at the prisoners. The good guards may have feared being degraded like a prisoner would for countermanding a sadistic guard. It was easier to stand alongside the bad guards than it was to oppose their cruel commands. If I were in the good guards’ shoes I would also be fearful to object orders from the bad guards because of their tendency to torture and be verbally cruel. However, it is hard to imagine myself not defending the prisoners in some ways from the bad guards’ cruel actions. Perhaps I would have shared a less torturous way to degrade the prisoners. It is hard to say what I would have done because I would need to be a part of the experiment. I am curious about the change in the psychological aspects of the bad guards. How could well-adjusted college students go from being good citizens of the community to sadistic torturers in a matter of six days? I think the scariest part is that this rapid change in behavior can happen to anyone. This is what makes the Stanford Prison Experiment something to learn from to better prisons and war. It is important to take into account how prison environments can transform the average person to a sadistic guard.

1 comment:

Lyndsey Matoushek said...

I agree with Pamela. I feel as if a lot of the reason the "good guards" did not object to the tougher guards is because the brutality was not directed towards them. I wanted to add that some personalities are stronger than others. The tougher guards had the type of personalities that stood out and wanted control, while the "good guards" may have been more introverted. Because they were more introverted and timid it may have been hard for them to speak up against the tough guards. It would be much easier for them to just watch what was happening instead of trying to make them change. I feel like this has a lot to do with a comparison between introverted and extroverted personalities, and what happens when they are pushed to their limits.