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How the Stanford Prison Experiment Worked

By: Ed Grabianowski

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Author's Note: How the Stanford Prison Experiment Worked

Much of the appeal of the Stanford Prison Experiment, aside from the dark, voyeuristic thrill of learning how the subjects acted, is how easily it lets you insert yourself into the narrative Zimbardo created. What kind of guard would you be? How would you react when another guard did something sadistic? How would you react as a prisoner? Would you organize your fellow prisoners, or work against them to gain favor with the guards? Or maybe you envision yourself in Zimbardo's position, pulling the strings in your scenario. How would you have changed the conditions to alter the subjects' behavior? Could you redesign the experiment to be more ethical?

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More Great Links

  • Carnahan, Thomas et al. "Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment: Could Participant Self-Selection Have Led to the Cruelty?" Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Vol. 33, issue 5. May 1, 2007. (June 22, 2017) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167206292689
  • Defiesta, Nick. "When Psychologists 'Go Wrong.'" Yale Daily News. Sept. 28, 2011. (July 14, 2017) http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2011/09/28/when-psychologists-go-wrong/
  • Haney, Craig et al. "Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison." International Journal of Criminology and Penology. 1973. (June 10, 2017) http://pdf.prisonexp.org/ijcp1973.pdf
  • House of Representatives. "Hearings Before Subcommittee No. 3 of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-Second Congress, First Session on Corrections Part 2, Prisons, Prison Reform, and Prisoner Rights: California." Oct. 25, 1971. (June 12, 2017) http://pdf.prisonexp.org/congress.pdf
  • Konnikova, Maria. "The Real Lesson of the Stanford Prison Experiment." The New Yorker. June 12, 2015. (June 12, 2017) http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/the-real-lesson-of-the-stanford-prison-experiment
  • Ratnesar, Romesh. "The Menace Within." Stanford Magazine. July/August 2011. (July 14, 2017) https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=40741
  • Reicher, Stephen & S. Alexander Haslam. "Rethinking the psychology of tyranny: The BBC prison study." British Journal of Social Psychology. 2006. (June 12, 2017) http://www.bbcprisonstudy.org/pdfs/BJSP(2006)Tyrannny.pdf
  • Sedacca, Matthew. "The Man Who Played With Absolute Power." Feb. 16, 2017. (July 6, 2017) http://nautil.us/issue/45/power/the-man-who-played-with-absolute-power
  • Stanford Prison Experiment. "The Story." (June 12, 2017) http://www.prisonexp.org/the-story
  • Zimbardo, Philip G. "A Situationist Perspective on the Psychlogy of Evil." "The Social Psychology of Good and Evil," Gilford Press. 2004. (June 12, 2017) http://pdf.prisonexp.org/evil.pdf
  • Zimbardo, Philip G. et al. "Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis, Transformations, Consequences." In T. Blass (Ed.),"Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm" (pp. 193-237). Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. 2000. (June 12, 2017) http://pdf.prisonexp.org/blass.pdf

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