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By Stephanie Cox
The 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment was designed by psychologists to study the effect of deindividuation during a power struggle. The results shocked investigators. In the summer of 1971, 24 college-aged men answered a newspaper ad calling for volunteers for a psychological experiment. The experiment would take up to 2 weeks and paid $15 dollars a day. The 24 participants, deemed healthy, average and normal by the experiment's psychologists, were randomly assigned to the roles prisoner or guard. Psychologists constructed a mock prison in the Stanford University basement, complete with iron bar cells, a space for solitary confinement, and no windows or natural light. The cells were bugged with video cameras and microphones so the mock guards could monitor conversations. Philip G. Zimbardo, one of the experiment's designers, served as the mock prison superintendent, and the experiment's principal psychologist. The volunteers designated as prisoners were subjected to a surprise arrest from their homes and brought to the 'prison' to begin the experiment. Nine prisoners filled 3 cells, and 3 guards watched over the prisoners on each of the 8-hour shifts. The experiment was supposed to be an investigation on the nature of humans in situations involving degradation and dehumanization. What followed shocked psychologists, even in light of notions of human psychology set from previous trials, such as the Milgram experiment. Important lessons from the Stanford Prison Experiment are still being discussed today. Study of Unequal Power Struggle with Dehumanization and Deindividuation On the second day of the experiment, chaos erupted. A prisoner led fellow prisoners to rebellion. The mock guards, only vaguely instructed to 'maintain law and order' struck back with solitary confinement, beatings, and public embarrassment as one prisoner was stripped naked in front of cell mates. According to Zimbardo, they had to be reminded by psychologists to relax their strict consequences. Three days into the experiment, one traumatized prisoner was released early. Stanford Prison Experiments Halted After only 6 days, the experiment was shut down. Principal Investigator Philip Zimbardo said the experiment was stopped before it was even half over because "We had to do so because too many normal young men were behaving pathologically as powerless prisoners or as sadistic, all-powerful guards." He later added, "At the beginning of the study there were no differences between those assigned randomly to guard and prisoner roles. In less than a week, there were no similarities among them; they had become totally different creatures." Stanford Prison Experiment: What Happened? Before the Stanford Prison Experiment, the volunteers' identities were specific. They had names, addresses, ages, social security numbers, fingerprints, etc, that were all individual to them. They had individual likes, dislikes, and personalities that set them apart from other people. The volunteers, as far as the experimenters could tell, weren't manifesting any kind of unusual role in society. Then these volunteers were put into an experiment where they were told to be either a prisoner or prison guard to see the psychological effects of this new role play of inequality for the volunteers. What resulted shed light onto man's darker side.

Stanford Prison Experiment Today Several documentaries, books, movies and even other psychology experiments have been based on ideas from the ill-fated 1971 experiment. Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment , a documentary written by Zimbardo was released in 1992. A film, The Standard Prison Experiment, based on the experiment is slated for a 2009 release. Das Experiment is a 2001 movie by German director Oliver Hirschbiegel based on events from the SPE. Sources Haney, C. & Zimbardo, P.G., (1998). The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy. Twenty-Five Years After the Stanford Prison Experiment. American Psychologist Zimbardo, P. G., Maslach, C., & Haney, C. (1999). Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis, transformations, consequences. Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.






Stanford Prison Experiment Illustrates Human Behaviors Dualistic Nature An article titled Demonstrating the Power of Social Situations via a Simulated Prison Experiment that was released through the American Psychological Association summed up the Stanford Prison experiments results by concluding that the Stanford Prison Experiment has become one of psychology's most dramatic illustrations of how good people can be transformed into perpetrators of evil, and healthy people can begin to experience pathological reactions - traceable to situational forces. Experiment Founder Psychologist P.G. Zombardo Analyzes Results The drama of the Stanford Prison Experiment only served to underscore the importance of the lessons learned from it. One of the experiments founding psychologist, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, discussed how the results relate to general human psychology in his paper Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis, transformations, consequences. Here, Dr. Zimbardo outlines what he deemed were the 10 most important psychological lessons from the Prison Experiment. Below in shortened version are the first 5 lessons: 1. Some situations can exert powerful influences over individuals, causing them to behave in ways they would not, could not, predict in advance. 2. Situational power is most salient in novel settings in which the participants cannot call on previous guidelines for their new behavior and have no historical references to rely on. 3. Situational power involves ambiguity of role boundaries, authoritative or institutionalized permission to behave in prescribed ways or to disinhibit traditionally disapproved ways of responding. 4. Role playing -- even when acknowledged to be artificial and temporary -- can still come to exert a profoundly realistic impact on the actors. 5. Good people can be induced, seduced, initiated into behaving in evil (irrational, stupid, self destructive, antisocial) ways by immersion in "total situations" that can transform human nature in ways that challenge our sense of the stability and consistency of individual personality, character, and morality. Dr. Zimbardo goes on to explain in his paper that based in this experiments results, its clear that prisons are inhumane and a failed socio-political experiment. Practical Applications of the Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment determined the importance of maintaining individuality, dignity and stable social guidelines in order to maintain a situations safety and predictability. The results armed psychologists with data supporting an ideology that some human behavior is based on a response situations rather than innate traits or previous personality. The experiment offered some conclusions to reasoning behind such horrors and torture brought on by Nazis during the Holocaust, and how such brutal behavior may have been, in some part, due to a natural response to a similar situation. (Though the behavior was still inexcusable). Criticism of Zimbardos Experiment Some psychologists, such as Erich Fromm, rejected Zimbardos Prison Experiment conclusion that some destructive human behavior is due to a situational response rather than innate traits or personality. In The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (Fawcett Books, 1973), Fromm points out the Prison experiment volunteers were only evaluated by themselves. In other words, each volunteer took a battery of personality and psychological tests to determine their normalcy, however, as Fromm points out, sadism and other destructive traits are often subconscious in the individual.

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By Joseph Wilner

Angel or Demon by Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher People are capable of both kindness and cruelty in any given situation. Being aware of this choice can provide preparation for action in a novel and emotional situation. The psychologist Ervin Staub contended that, Evil that arises out of ordinary thinking and is committed by ordinary people is the norm, not the exception (p. 485). This banality of evil is a pervasive concept in Philip Zimbardos book The Lucifer Effect [Random House Trade, 2008], which discusses the question of how a typical and ordinary individual is capable of committing atrocities and violence against a fellow human being. It is explained that this is not because one is of an evil nature or has a malevolent disposition, but instead decisions are determined more by the strong situational factors acting on the behavior of an individual at a given time. Some situational forces acting on the behavior of a typical individual are such influences as group pressures and group identity. Particularly, a diffusion of responsibility and the dehumanization of others, are some impacting influences that lead to abusive and corrosive actions against other people or groups. Social Acceptance The situational influence enacted and perpetuated by authority may be viewed in the context of the group pressures that promote conformity and obedience. Zimbardo discusses that authority can

secure total obedience through the threat of group rejection or through the enticement of group acceptance. Further, the individual that maintains autonomy and becomes an outsider, instead of conforming to group attitudes, may experience an emotional burden from dissonance stemming from the powerful need to belong. As the book points out, autonomy comes at a psychic cost (p. 265). This seems to be a poignant notion for considering the process or metamorphosis that takes place when one is unable to resist the pressures of a collectively harmful ideology. Dehumanizing the "Enemy" The concept of dehumanization is a particularly profound force in the disturbing acts perpetuated by one human being on another. This entails the process by which a one group views another group as less human or less deserving of human dignity. Much political propaganda can stigmatize and segregate a specified group, and in so doing promote the prejudice, racism, and discrimination that prompts evil and harmful behavior. One example of dehumanization is the derogatory names and remarks that are directed toward a specific group. These labels can negatively transform a social perception of a group or individual and lead to cruelty and disdain. Zimbardo provides numerous examples of historical genocides, such as Nazi Germany, that accomplished this moral disengagement and lead to barbaric treatment of different ethnic cultures. Nazi's were motivated through propaganda films and posters that derogated other ethnicities as being inferior human beings. This is discussed in the text as a form of cognitive conditioning that turns these others into enemies. This form of propaganda educes fear and hatred in the minds of citizens and soldiers to condition a willingness to defeat this enemy at any cost. The Anonymous Individual Deindividuation is another force that can impel a typically calm person to enact violence and harm against another. The idea of deindividuation is seen through the use of uniforms or attire that promotes anonymity and therefore provides displaced responsibility for ones actions. In the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, one technique to impart this anonymity was through the reflective sunglasses worn by the guards. This provided them a shielded identity that masked a personal accountability, as they did not have to make eye contact with the prisoners. When anonymity is present in conjunction with the opportunity to act aggressively, it can increase the chances that harmful behavior will be induced. This can be seen in many cultures where aggressive behavior may be glorified, or what may be considered a culture of violence where aggressive norms and values play an important role. The individual has displaced responsibility in the context of strong social influence to conform to aggressive behavior and so is more willing to disregard the consequences. This may relate to the idea of institutional or social permission to act aggressively and one way of promoting this is through providing the means to feel anonymous. Ordinary Hero's The forces that influence the typical individual may also be applied in a positive context in examining the banality of heroism, or in other words, the potential for an everyday person to act in a more altruistic and helpful manner. The idea of labels through words and rhetoric is one example where the social influence could cogently begin to alter perceptions in a positive direction to foster more heroic actions as opposed to evil. Developing a focus on the heroic antecdotes in society and perpetuating these actions could impact the social dynamic. It also becomes relevant for the individual to begin examining what they may truly be capable of when presented with a novel situation where stakes are high. Self-Restraint The Lucifer Effect would contend that all people are capable of committing atrocious behavior, but that the individual has the ability to reject the authoritative appeal when there is clear moral

aberration. A quote from Albert Bandura may help exemplify that the decision for behavior is a choice though it can be a difficult task to maintain. Our ability to selectively engage and disengage our moral standardshelps to explain how people can be barbarically cruel in one moment and compassionate the next. Though environment plays a role in behavior, an individual accountability provides the means to develop a virtuous character and strong ethical framework.
(Source: Suite 101 -

(The following article is from Slate Magazine :

[Before we read this: What happened at Abu Ghraib? In the fall of 2003, Iraqi prisoners were beaten, stripped naked, confined in small spaces, tortured, sexually humiliated, and abused by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib, a sprawling prison complex near Baghdad. The abuse was kept hidden by the U.S. military until photographs of the victims and their smiling tormentors were released to a stunned American public. Several investigations into the scandal were launched. Their assessment of the "brutality and purposeless sadism" at Abu Ghraib is shocking. Source: book=9781586483197 ]



By William SaletanPosted Wednesday, May 12, 2004, at 6:51 PM ET

Are the American soldiers who abused Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison "a few who have betrayed our values," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claims? Or are they victims of a prison system guaranteed to produce atrocities? In recent days, the latter view has taken hold, buttressed by the Stanford Prison Experiment, a 1971 study in which upstanding young men assigned to be "guards" in a mock jail abused their "prisoners." The study's designer, former Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo, has become the media's favorite expert on prison abuse, imprinting his blame-the-situation attitude on newspaper, magazine, and television coverage of the Iraqi prison scandal. The emerging spin is that the Stanford experiment explains scientifically what happened at Abu Ghraib. But science, particularly social science, isn't all scientific. Every experimenter begins by drawing a box. Inside the box are the factors he decides to control or measure. The restincluding himare left out, either because he can't control or measure them, or because he doesn't think they're important. The box-drawing process is seldom scientific and often cultural or political. Consequently, excluded factors often turn out to be more important than included ones. That's why the Stanford experiment doesn't explainor excuseAbu Ghraib.

In a Boston Globe op-ed this week, Zimbardo argues,

The terrible things my guards [at Stanford] did to their prisoners were comparable to the horrors

inflicted on the Iraqi detainees. My guards repeatedly stripped their prisoners naked, hooded them, chained them, denied them food or bedding privileges, put them into solitary confinement, and made them clean toilet bowls with their bare hands. Over time, these amusements took a sexual turn, such as having the prisoners simulate sodomy on each other. Human behavior is much more under the control of situational forces than most of us recognize or want to acknowledge.

The abuse Zimbardo describes at Stanford does resemble the abuse at Abu Ghraib. But the differences are more significant. Here's what happened at Abu Ghraib, according to the now-famous Taguba report:

Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture having sex with a female detainee Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.

Why did guards at Abu Ghraib, unlike guards at Stanford, go beyond humiliation to violence, severe injury, and rape? To answer that question, you have to look not at the factors Zimbardo studied, but at the factors he left out. For example:

1. Personality. The Stanford experimenters picked as guards and inmates "the 24 subjects who were judged to be most stable (physically and mentally), most mature, and least involved in antisocial behavior." This group was so nonviolent that according to Zimbardo, "Virtually all had indicated a preference for being a prisoner because they could not imagine going to college and ending up as a prison guard. On the other hand, they could imagine being imprisoned for a driving violation or some act of civil disobedience." The soldiers implicated at Abu Ghraib, however, were led by two veteran prison guards, one of whom had received three court orders to stay away from his ex-wife, who said he had thrown her against a wall and had threatened her with guns.

2. Race. At Stanford, with the exception of one Asian-American, the prisoners, like the guards, were white. At Abu Ghraib, the guards were Americans, but the prisoners were Iraqis. The guards didn't understand Iraq, hated being there, and were under constant assault from Iraqi mortars outside the prison walls. To them, the inmates seemed a foreign enemy. The Abu Ghraib guards clearly wanted less interaction with their prisoners than the Stanford guards wanted with theirs. At Stanford, roll calls initially lasted 10 minutes but grew to hours as guards enjoyed toying with inmates. At Abu Ghraib, roll calls that were supposed to be conducted twice a day were instead conducted twice a week. At Stanford, according to Zimbardo, "Most of the guards seemed to be distressed by the decision to stop the experiment. ... None of the guards ever failed to come to work on time for their shift, and indeed, on several occasions guards remained on duty voluntarily and uncomplaining for extra hourswithout additional pay." None of this was true at Abu Ghraib.

3. Supervisors' input. On the second day of the Stanford experiment, prisoners began pleading for release. Over the next five days of the six-day study, researchers released five of the 10 "prisoners." If you desperately wanted out, you got out. According to Zimbardo, the experimenters allowed prisoners to be visited by "their own parents and friends on visiting nights; a Catholic priest; a public defender; many professional psychologists; and graduate students, secretaries, and staff of the

psychology department," many of whom "took part in parole board hearings or spoke to participants and looked at them directly." When guards pushed the limitsfor example, handcuffing and blindfolding a prisoner in the counseling office (yes, the inmates got regular counselinganother amenity neglected at Abu Ghraib)the experimenters ordered them to stop. At Abu Ghraib, none of this was true. The key issue in dispute is which supervisorover-aggressive military intelligence officers; Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the allegedly callous commander of U.S. forces in Iraq; Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the military police boss who allegedly ignored reports of abuse, or otherscontributed most to the scandal.

Zimbardo thinks his "situationist" theory holds supervisors accountable for the the situations they create. But by defining situations in broad terms such as "dehumanization" and "diffusion of responsibility," he obscures the precise ways in which supervisors influence abuse. In the Globe, for example, Zimbardo lists, among "the terrible things my guards did," the fact that the Stanford guards "chained" their prisoners. But according to the original 1973 journal article on the study, "A chain and lock were placed around one ankle" of each prisoner as part of the study's design, to serve as a "constant reminder ... of the oppressiveness of the environment." Likewise, in an article hailing Stanford as a template for Abu Ghraib, the New York Times says of Zimbardo's experiment, Within days the "guards" had become swaggering and sadistic, to the point of placing bags over the prisoners' heads, forcing them to strip naked and encouraging them to perform sexual acts. [Zimbardo] said that while the rest of the world was shocked by the images from Iraq, "I was not surprised that it happened." "I have exact, parallel pictures of prisoners with bags over their heads," from the 1971 study, he said. But it was the experimenters, not the guards, who came up with the bag idea. As Zimbardo's wife, Christina Maslach, explained recently,

The toilet was outside the confines of the prison yard, and this had posed a problem for the researchers. They did not want the prisoners to see people and places in the outside world, which would have broken the total environment they were trying to create. So the routine for the bathroom runs was to put paper bags over the prisoners' heads so they couldn't see anything

The same thing happened at Abu Ghraib. Prisoners have been photographed wearing hoods; but according to guards, it was intelligence officers who initially brought "hooded" prisoners to them. Last week, the commander of military prisons in Iraq announced that intelligence officers would no longer "hood" detainees, in effect confirming that they had been doing so. This turns out to be the most interesting parallel between Stanford and Abu Ghraib: In both inquiries, the role of influential supervisors was wrongly screened out. According to the Times, "General Karpinski has complained that the initial investigation ordered by General Sanchez was limited to the conduct of her military police brigade and did not examine in any detail the role played by military intelligence and private contractors." By focusing on the power of situations and roles, Zimbardo also obscures the ability of participants to alter them. He halted the Stanford experiment after six days largely because Maslach observed the proceedings and told him, "What you are doing to those boys is a terrible thing!" Reflecting on this moment, Zimbardo concludes,

I had become a Prison Superintendent, the second role I played in addition to that of Principal Investigator. I began to talk, walk and act like a rigid institutional authority figure more concerned about the security of "my prison" than the needs of the young men entrusted to my care as a

psychological researcher. In a sense, I consider that the most profound measure of the power of this situation was the extent to which it transformed me.

In other words, the situation made me do it. Even the creator and supervisor is a cog. Perhaps we'll hear the same defense from the folks who ran Abu Ghraib. The point of the Stanford experiment, after all, was to discredit personal responsibility. "Individual behavior is largely under the control of social forces and environmental contingencies rather than 'personality traits,' 'character,' 'will power,' or other empirically unvalidated constructs," Zimbardo told Congress in 1971. "Thus we create an illusion of freedom by attributing more internal control to ourselves, to the individual, than actually exists." Why do we create this "illusion"? Zimbardo's colleague in the experiment, Craig Haney, says we do so because "if we can attribute deviance, failure, and breakdowns to the individual flaws of others, then we are absolved." Maybe so. But if we blame the situation, the perpetrators are absolved, too.

Comprehension/Composition Questions
Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper.

1) In your own words, describe the set-up and results of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

2) What is meant by the terms dehumanization and deindividuation? In what way did these occur during the experiment? How might they apply to the behavior of characters in Lord of the Flies? Give examples of dehumanization or deindividuation from history or current events.

3) According to the article Individual Accountability or Social Influence, how might obedience to authority and the pressure for social acceptance affect our behavior in group situations? How might obedience to authority and conformity to the group have influenced the behavior of characters in Lord of the Flies? For members of Jacks tribe, what are the consequences of nonconformity?

4) According to the final article, what differences existed between the treatment of experimental subjects during the Stanford Prison Experiment and the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib? What accounts for these differences?

5) Do you agree with the following statement by Phil Zimbardo? Why or why not?
"Individual behavior is largely under the control of social forces and environmental contingencies rather than 'personality traits,' 'character,' 'will power,' or other empirically unvalidated constructs. Thus we create an illusion of freedom by attributing more internal control to ourselves, to the individual, than actually exists."