Stanford University Prison Experiment

1. Purpose: 

The Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted in 1971 by psychologist Philip Zimbardo to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power and authority in a simulated prison environment.

2. Participants: 

The study involved 24 male college students who were randomly assigned to the roles of guards or prisoners. The participants were selected from a larger pool of volunteers.

3. Simulated Environment: 

The experiment took place in the basement of the Stanford University psychology department, which was transformed into a simulated prison setting.

4. Role-playing: 

Participants were fully immersed in their assigned roles, with guards given uniforms and sunglasses to anonymize them, while prisoners were given smocks and assigned identification numbers.

5. Rapid Deterioration: 

The study had to be terminated after only six days (instead of the planned two weeks) due to the rapid deterioration of participants' mental and emotional well-being.

6. Abuse of Power:

Guards began displaying abusive and authoritarian behavior towards the prisoners, who, in turn, showed signs of extreme stress and emotional distress.

7. Psychological Effects:

The experiment demonstrated how social roles and situational factors can significantly influence human behavior, leading individuals to conform to their assigned roles even in a short period.

8. Ethical Concerns: 

The study raised serious ethical concerns regarding the psychological and emotional well-being of participants. It lacked proper informed consent and adequate safeguards for the well-being of the subjects.

9. Debriefing: 

After the study was terminated, participants were extensively debriefed about the nature of the experiment and its purpose. Steps were taken to help them process and understand their experiences.

10. Impact and Criticism:

While the Stanford Prison Experiment contributed valuable insights into the dynamics of power and authority, it has faced criticism for its ethical issues and methodological flaws. 

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