In 1973, Dr. Zimbardo, well-known psychologist from Stanford, but together the Stanford Prison Experiment.

He had heard about the brutality of prison guards in American prisons.  He seems to have wondered about whether the brutality of the guards came from their personalities, or from the social structure of the system.

The idea of the experiment was simple.  Why not get together a bunch of say, college kids.  They work for little or nothing — sometimes nothing, really but course credit.

You put them into a social situation that is as close as possible a replication of a prison.  Assign them the same kinds of things prisoners do.

The experiment turned out to be a bloody wreck.  To his credit, Dr. Zimbardo stopped it quickly for humanitarian reasons.

Serious clobbering ensued.

Zimbardo sure got his answer.  Give one group of folks that much authority over another group of folks, and this kind of thing happens.

Even with pretend authority, and this sort of thing happens.

This is one of those experiments that pretty much everyone who takes Psychology 101 in college studies.  Most folks say it sounds familiar, even though few seem to remember who did it.

My guess is that even the good Dr. Zimbardo was traumatized.

The next thing I remember seeing by him after that was a nice little book about “shyness.”

I’m pretty sure no experiments done for that book could have harmed anyone.

Suggestion from an old Jailhouse Doc. (“shrink”)

Avoid jail.

Filed under News, Prisons, Psychology, Research by on #

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