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Jessica Paul 3/1/13 Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment Hypothesis Zimbardo’s goal was to examine how willingly people would conform

into the roles of guards and prisoners in a replicated prison. He also wanted to figure out if the reports on guards being cruel in real life were based on their personalities or the environment that they are working in. Evaluate Zimbardo wanted to study the roles people play in prison situations. Zimbardo used a basement in the Stanford University psychology building and converted it into a replicated prison. He promoted students to play as a prisoner or a guard in his made-up prison. The students that volunteered were tested for “psychological normality” and were paid $15 a day to do the experiment. Zimbardo randomly assigned the volunteers to a role. The chosen prisoners were arrested at their homes, with no warning, and taken to the police station. Zimbardo made the guards wear a khaki uniform and have a whistle, handcuffs and dark glasses so that they could not make eye contact with the prisoners. The prison recreation was supposed to be as “real life” as possible. The prisoners were treated like a real criminal; they had to go through everything that a real criminal would go through at the police station. Once this was over, they were driven to the replica prison in the basement. The prisoner’s personal possessions were taken away, and were given a uniform. They were only to be referred to as their number written on their uniform. Three guards were assigned to the nine prisoners; they had eight our shifts. Soon after, the guards and prisoners were becoming more comfortable with their roles. Some guards began to harass the prisoners and did not mind doing it. The prisoners even started to accept the rules of the guards as if they were actually a criminal. Days later, Zimbardo saw a few changes in the relationships between the prisoners and the guards. The prisoners became dependent on the guards even though they were dehumanizing them and were very aggressive. Prisoners would even try to please the guards. During the experiment, some prisoners had to be released because they were acting out and starting to become depressed. Zimbardo planned on doing this experiment for two weeks but ended up shutting it down on the sixth day because of the risk of the volunteers becoming physically or mentally damaged. Methods or Techniques Zimbardo used a lab experiment to study conformity. He took volunteers and gave them a role of either a prisoner or a guard. He placed them in a simulated prison and wanted them to play their roles as if it was real. He also used interviews after the experiment to conclude his experiment and find out how the volunteers felt during the experimentation.

Conclusion After the experiment, Zimbardo interviewed the volunteers. He discovered that the guards could not believe that they behaved very aggressively and uncaring. The prisoners could not believe that they let the guards do harsh things to them, but were still dependent on them. Zimbardo concluded that roles that people play can change their behavior and attitudes significantly.