Stanford Prison Experiment
Dr. Philip Zimbardo, a professor at Stanford University, conducted a controversial research experiment in 1971. Dr. Zimbardo was interested in learning about what happens to people when they are put in a prison, as either a guard or inmate. To study this, he created a mock prison in the basement of the university and randomly assigned participants (college student volunteers) to be either a guard or an inmate. The “inmates” wore jumpsuits and had to sleep in cells. The “guards” wore uniforms and were in charge of the “inmates.” Although the study was supposed to last 2 weeks, it was terminated after only 6 days because of how dangerous the situation became. In this short amount of time, the “guards’. terrorized the “inmates,” and the “inmates” became severely emotionally traumatized. For more information on the experiment, see the slideshow:
In your discussion, present an argument based on the following two questions. There are no right or wrong answers, as long as you adequately back up your argument with supporting material from (1) class or the textbook and (2) outside material (such as current events, websites, etc., but not wikipedia).
(1) Was it ethical to do this study? Was it right to trade the suffering experienced by participants for the knowledge gained by the research? In other words, would it be better if this study had never been done? The experimenters did not take this issue lightly, although the slide show may sound somewhat matter-of-fact about the events and experiences that occurred.
(2) If you were the experimenter in charge, would you have done this study? What would you have done the same and/or differently, and why?