This is the story of the Stanford experiment, a test of the School of Psychology that they ended up getting out of hand at all. Even today, 44 years later, is a case study in the faculties of Psychology and Sociology, and the result of controversy over the ethical and moral implications.
In 1971 conducted an experiment Psychological on the influence of an extreme environment like the life of a prisoner in the behavior of people and their evolution over time. Both for prisoners and their jailers. Held in jail Stanford, and has since become known as “The Stanford prison experiment” or simply “The Stanford experiment” . Even today, 44 years later, is being studied in the schools of psychology and sociology. And that I had to be canceled well before schedule. Its consequences were far harsher than what came to foresee.
The research team was led by Philip Zimbardo , which debuted in Stanford University three years ago and is a famous character in social psychology and behavioral studies since. The study started with funds from the US military, who wanted to understand the causes of conflict in their prisons.
Also, Zimbardo wanted to test his theory, saying that many of the abuses experienced in these prisons had their origin in certain “ self ” whereby captive and guardians (prisoners vs jailers) adopted and assumed their roles, and based on his scripts were held all subsequent situations.
Prisoners and guards
All participants were selected through a process of homogeneous selection, without distinguishing between prisoners and guards. Of the 70 candidates, the research team was left with 24, imposing mental balance and good psychological health as key selection factors. Of the 24, all were college students and Most respond to standard profile white male middle class.
All of them were promised a payment of $ 15 per day for their contribution to research (according to a calculation href=”http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm”> , equivalent to $ 88.5 diaries 2015). Once accepted, the group split into two random . That first division caused the first conflict: many of the prisoners said it was clear that the guards had been chosen for having a generally rockier and larger than the physical prisoners
In fact the draw had. been such without an influence toward a particular result, and even had actual physical differences between each others. Rather it was the result of suggestion of those who remained in the role of prisoners, which says something about how he would continue the experiment.
Once were selected 24 were commanded to return home until they received a visit to indicate that the experiment would begin. Remember that part of the “visit” for later.
Although usually we often speak of this experiment as the one who “took place at Stanford Prison” not took place in a real prison. But almost. The basement of the Department of Psychology at Stanford University were remodeled to look like a real prison.
The implication of the research team is one of the most controversial aspects of this experiment, as we will see when talking about their consequences. Zimbardo took the role of superintendent, and his assistant, of Warden .
The Stanford experiment. Day 0.
The experiment began with the communication of a harsh conditions imposed by Zimbardo, especially for those who were prisoners. The aim was that these end up feeling disoriented and dehumanized for 14 days would last that.
- The guards would receive military style uniforms, including batons.
- Only the guards could work in shifts and return home during their free time. The prisoners were there 24 hours.
- The guards lead mirrored sunglasses to avoid eye contact with prisoners. Part of the process of dehumanization.
- Prisoners lead muslin robes (a very thin almost transparent fabric, , often used for curtains and drapes). No underwear.
- Your footwear would be sandals with rubber heels, and so they would never be quite comfortable and increase their disorientation.
- An average head made them appear to be shaved . Although it was just a ridiculous snap in practice.
- In the experiment, they had names. They were just numbers, and so all would direct them.
- To increase the tightness, the prisoners would take a string hugging her ankles.
The rules imposed the guards before starting the experiment were scarce and somewhat diffuse, the only thing forbidden was physical violence . They were asked to spec prison the way they believed timely, with all that entails.
Start Remember what the “check” that would start experiment? Prisoners of the experiment were visited at home by real cops Police Department Palo Alto. They were accused of armed robbery and were taken into custody, where they underwent a process of detention as real life, with police photograph and fingerprinting. After upgraded to the “prison” of the basement of the Psychology Department, there were scanned naked, wormed and provided with a new identity as numbers, not names.
The first day was more or less normal, smooth, with an even hospitality. The second day the prisoners made a mutiny . The first consequence was that the guards sacrificed their free time to do unpaid overtime and help control the situation. The second consequence was that the experiment got out of hand both researchers and guards, and never returned to a normal state.
The guards ended up attacking prisoners rociándoles extinguishers as makeshift “weapons” forced to go naked to humiliate them, they were denied the right to go to the bathroom to make it a privilege or a costly reward, until it was decided to convert food into a prize rather than keeping it as a right fundamental.
From there it became even more cruel practices such as forcing some prisoners to sleep on the concrete floor, naked, after taking away both his robes as mattresses from their cells. They were also imposed penalties in the form of forced physical exercise and even having to clean toilets with bare hands, which is a clear sign that quickly embraced the gratuitous humiliation, and even normal punishments were sufficient .
The most effective and most psychologically crumble made prisoners was an impromptu performance measure but it turned out to be unprecedented in other US prisons: was decided to separate the prisoners’ cells for good “and” cells to bad “semi-randomly, giving the feeling that had informers who betrayed including . From that moment grew distrust among prisoners hitherto united by a common enemy, and was born impotence. From will form a team of oppressed happened to individuals unable to react, to rebel, to fight.
The guards began to exert practices of pure sadism , especially when it was getting dark and believed the cameras recording their movements were off. When the fourth day of the experiment came, reached the ears of both Zimbardo and equipment guards the rumor that the prisoners were preparing a plan to escape the false imprisonment. His reaction was to try the experiment be moved to a real prison, or at least a set of real cells, police Palo Alto. Police would not lend itself to this and Zimbardo became angry at his little cooperation.
However, something that was perceived and subsequently defended Zimbardo’s experiment is that each accepted his role, assumed it was part of a role-playing even after experiencing such harsh conditions . This was proved after a small intra-experiment within the ditto: Each prisoner was given the “probation” in exchange for giving up their pay. Almost everyone accepted. They were then informed that the parole was rejected. Rather than abandon the experiment, as seemed logical to do once had already decided to lose all the money, all were in the “prison”. They could have come out freely at any time and would not, they accepted only when the network part of the game (it that “probation”). As the object of study of behavior is one of the most interesting parts of the experiment, really is very disturbing.
The prisoners, after being subjected to a sadistic treatment, humiliation repeated and brutal oppression that left physically exhausted and mentally blocked them, suffered serious emotional disorders and disorders including deep depressions. In some cases came to have his physical reflection, like a psychosomatic rash that came out to a prisoner when his parole was rejected.
You could not think clearly. Communication between prisoners became blurred. cries were heard in the cells . Stress and panic dominated. Meanwhile, the sadism of the guards continued to develop. Two prisoners suffered such severe traumas that were replaced during the experiment. One of their replacements was so shocked by the treatment that the guards subjected their peers who began a hunger strike .
As punishment, he was held in a small cubicle and forced him to hold the sausages he had refused to eat. His fellow prisoners, instead of seeing it as a newcomer who had decided solidarity with their tough situation, interpreted it as a troublemaker who end up causing problems for all . When the guards detected this attitude, they decided to use it to their advantage (sadistic).
They offered to prisoners give up the blankets and end the confinement the prisoner on hunger strike, or instead retain blankets and allow confinement lasted overnight. The inmates chose to stay with blankets, but ultimately Zimbardo stepped in and forced to allow the prisoner on hunger strike returned to his cell.
End of experiment
When they had past six days since starting the experiment, Zimbardo decided to cancel. The occasion was the visit of a student, Christina Maslach, to venues took place for some interviews. She had not been aware of what the routine there, questioned the ethics and morality of that environment, of those conditions.
Zimbardo realized that no one had previously questioned something so obviously reprehensible. The guards were enjoying their role, the prisoners seemed to have accepted their submission and its conditions, and investigators were attending the experiment itself without taking into account the human factor and the limits of research with people as subjects. Meanwhile, some parents volunteer experiment demanded the suspension of the experiment and the “liberation” of their children . They did so after a few hours during the same visit concluded. Although Zimbardo ordered that both volunteers and their cells were clean on those occasions, this request was inevitable. It dismissed at any time.
In 2001 was recorded film “Experiment” (AKA, “Das Experiment”, in German), directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. Fairly reliable development but with a purely cinematic ending.
In 2010 another film also titled recorded “, but this time in the United States, directed by Paul Scheuring and starring Adrien Brody . It is a remake of 2001, if already had some licenses, in this film you choose to embrace a greater collection in lockers before by staying true to the original plot.
In English, a good summary of the experiment and its findings if it is true that as they indicate, is surrounded controversy: the sample is small, the time was short, and the conditions surrounding the experiment were very particular as to try to draw conclusions and generalizations
You can also take a look at the Philip Zimbardo website and check that, over 40 years later, it remains one quite peculiar. From there links to official website Stanford Experiment , with a long list of articles, links, documents and even a DVD for sale. As a final historical curiosity scanned original documents of the time with the report of the experiment.
March 30, 2015