OPIC #3: EXPERIMENT GONE TOO FAR?
TOPIC #3: EXPERIMENT GONE TOO FAR?
Philip Zimbardo (you saw him earlier in the video about the Milgram Study) was a social psychologist working at Stanford University who wanted to understand whether the brutality practiced by prison guards was dispositional or was due to the prison environment. Zimbardo hypothesized that it was the environment (situation) that highly influenced the actions of prison guards rather than their personality. The basement of the psychology building at Stanford was turned into a mock prison. Students volunteered to participate in the study and were randomly assigned to the role of prisoner or prison guard.
As you watch the video, think about Zimbardo’s statement “Does the situation outside of you—the institution—come to control your behavior, or do the things inside of you—your attitude, your values, your morality—allow you to rise above a negative environment?”
1. Consider the psychological consequences of stripping, delousing, and shaving the heads of prisoners or members of the military. What transformations to the individual take place when people go through an experience like this?
2.Was it ethical to do this study? Was it right to trade the suffering experienced by participants for the knowledge gained by the research?
3. If you were the experimenter in charge, would you have done this study? Would you have terminated it earlier? Would you have conducted a follow-up study? Discuss.