PSYCH 620 Week 2 The Stanford Prison Experiment

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Zimbardo Research Paper

The Stanford Jail Examination was an exploration study directed by Dr. Zimbardo in 1971. He advertised for college students to participate in a two-week study on prison life in the local newspaper (Stanford Prison Experiment, 2007). After passing a series of psychological tests, 24 college students were chosen to participate out of a total of 75 willing participants. Later, these 24 college students would be randomly assigned roles as guards and inmates at a prison.

The college students who were given the job of guarding the prison contributed to the construction of a fictitious prison to house the fictitious inmates. The undergrads that played the part of detainees anyway were captured by genuine cops by being set in cuffs and blindfolded. They were then taken by squad car to the phony jail (Stanford Jail Investigation, 2007). During their time in the reenacted jail, the detainees were exposed to being stripped bare and deloused, they were treated in a dehumanized way, and the gatekeepers persistently tormented them. The study only lasted five days for some. The others transformed into a zombie state, submitting to each standard or order that the phony gatekeepers educated. So, what was the study’s goal? It was to show the way that people’s conduct changes just by the climate they are in. This paper will talk about the ethical issues that this study raises, as well as the value of the study in terms of the humanity of the participants and some safeguards for future participants.

PSYCH 620 Week 2 The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford prison experiment’s significance lay in its ability to demonstrate how individuals’ behavior changes in response to their surroundings; This particular study demonstrated the responses of 24 people in a prison setting, 12 of whom were given the roles of prisoners and 12 of whom were guards. According to Dr. Zimbardo’s research, the outcome of power struggles in which some people are subjected to violence and torture has a significant psychological impact on human behavior. The study demonstrated how quickly individuals can change their behavior and adapt to survive in certain environments.

Problems and ethical concerns

The students who were put in the prisoner’s role were abused and tortured, which was a major ethical issue. According to Onishi & Hebert (2016), these individuals were so traumatized that the research experiment had to be ended after six days. Dr. Zimbardo neglected to follow the set of rules for all clinicians. The American Psychological Association (2019) states that “Principle A: Psychologists practice beneficence and non-maleficence, which means “not to harm.” According to American Psychological Association (APA) 2019 section 8 paragraph 3, Code 8.07 Deception in Research clearly states that “all participants should not be deceived and that the researcher should strive to ensure that explain any deception that is an integral feature of the design and conduct of an experiment to participants as early as is feasible, preferably after their participation.”

Following all current APA guidelines and making sure that all participants are aware that they have the right to withdraw at any time if they feel these guidelines are not being followed are two safeguards that need to be implemented to prevent ethical issues in the future. The most effective way to guarantee this happens is by giving all people that wish to partake in exploration to concentrate on a duplicate of the APA set of rules, particularly with regards to leading human examination. PSYCH 620 Week 2 The Stanford Prison Experiment


Dr. Zimbardo’s study demonstrates how quickly people can adapt to different social roles and environments. The college students who took on the role of guards changed their behavior during this study to one of brutality and power abuse. They’re direct before the review showed they didn’t display any of these qualities. The guards adapted to the situation and began torturing and abusing their prisoners because they were led to believe that all guards behaved in this manner to maintain order. When confronted with various social and ecological circumstances, people’s views of what happens may become changed to fit what they feel is right to get by.


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Onishi, S. L., & Hebert, R. S. (2016). The Stanford Prison Experiment. American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, 33(1), 64–68.

S Alexander Haslam, & Stephen D Reicher. (n.d.). Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: what Milgram and Zimbardo’s studies really show. PLoS Biology, (11), e1001426.

Stanford Prison Experiment [Video file]. (2007). Retrieved April 2, 2019, from