Today I will be authoring two threads pertaining to two different experiments that were done in the 60's and 70's. The first of these two is the
Standford Prison Experiment
by Philip Zimbardo.
Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford prison experiment was a psychological study of the human response to captivity, in particular, to the real world circumstances of prison
life and the effects of imposed social roles on behavior. It was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Philip Zimbardo of Stanford
University. Undergraduate volunteers played the roles of guards and prisoners living in a mock prison built in the basement of the Stanford psychology
building. Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their assigned roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to
genuinely dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies, while
many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early. Despite the now highly unsanitary and out of control
conditions evident, only one of 50 observers, graduate interviewer Christina Maslach, objected to the experiment. Zimbardo then ended the experiment
Stanford Prison Experiment
This study was truly ground breaking and still astonishes me. A small group of undergrad students who had volunteered for this study, were slapped
with this "label". Labels are everywhere in our society and I think they stand for too much. Well this study does it's fair share of work to
reinforce that. Of the volunteers, each was randomly selected as either a "prisoner" or "guard". Those who were selected as "guards" were
asked to jump in a squad car, drive around and pick up each one of the "prisoners" as if they were actually being arrested.
Within a day or two, the "prisoners" had truly assumed their roles. Depressed, aggressive, not respecting authority, even going as far to
attempting to break out. The "guards" were even worse. They were abusing the prisoners, ridiculing them, taunting them, and really abusing the
mock authority they had inherited. In less than two days, regular joes were transformed into radical prisoners and power hungry guards. The
insertion of these labels, and the sense of superiority or inferiority, that comes with it, truly speaks volumes.
If you read the full article, you will see that after six days they had to stop the experiment. The volunteers had really detached themselves from
reality and could not fathom that they were not "prisoners" and "guards", and that they were actually students who had volunteered for this.
In society, we have a lot of figures who have been known to abuse their power. For me personally, I see a lot of individuals in the education system
that really have no place in it. I've worked with youth and witnessed them in the classroom setting, and I can see quite easily where the problem
stems from. When the educator feels they are superior to the rest of the class, the class mates have two options. Accept that they are inferior or
confront the teacher on this matter. Those who confront are deviant and we all know how the system stymies these children.
Why do we, in society, put so much emphasis into these "labels"?
The facts speak for themselves. University students transformed into monsters over night. Individuals who volunteered, tutored, etc., were given a
false sense of authority, and quickly abused it. All with no regard for the victims of their crime.
There were no victims, there was just this "label".
I've got much to say on the subject, but I will stop at this point and open the door up for opinions on the matter.
The second of these two experiments can be found here:
Stanley Milgram: The Milgram Experiment
Be sure to check it out!
[edit on 15-3-2007 by chissler]