The Stanford Prison Experiment: Zimbardos Ethical Paradigm

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The Stanford Prison Experiment: Zimbardos Ethical Paradigm



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The Stanford Prison Experiment

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There were many ethical problems with conducting this experiment. The first concerns the consent form that the participants signed before joining. The consent form mentions a loss of privacy and the limitations involved with trying to leave the experiment early, but it does not say anything about the conditions under which the prisoners eventually found themselves Zimbardo, The premise of the experiment anticipated that the prisoners and guards might become too invested in their roles, but the consent form does not state that they might be subject to inhumane conditions. The next problem was that Zimbardo did not actively direct the experiment. He allowed the guards to run the prison as they wished and did not intervene when it became clear that the prison was out of control.

He admitted being more concerned with a potential escape plan than focusing on his experiment. There were a few prisoners who became ill due to the stressful conditions, and Zimbardo made it difficult for those participants to leave. The participants were primarily white, middle class males who were college undergraduates. They had no experience with prison, losing their freedom, or with any of the conditions that were forced upon them. Zimbardo not only had an ethical responsibility to prepare the participants for all possibilities, but he should have shut down the experiment once he realized that the participants playing the role of the prisoners were quickly having emotional and physical problems.

The results can impact every aspect of the legal system, from arrest, to trial to imprisonment. When the subjects were arrested, they were blindfolded and left confused as to what would happen to them Zimbardo, , slide 3. While this is an exaggeration of how suspects are usually arrested, it is not far off. Often, suspects are made to wait hours in a holding cell before they have any means of contacting the outside world. This leaves them confused and often dehumanized as they are ignored by law enforcement personnel.

They were stripped naked and deloused; the delousing is important in order to prevent the spreading of diseases or bugs such as lice, but forcing prisoners to appear naked in front of others is humiliating. Unfortunately, it is common in most prison systems. Next, the prisoners were made to wear uncomfortable clothing and were denied underwear, further dehumanizing them and ensuring that their prison stay would be uncomfortable on the most basic level. Most men are not accustomed to wearing dresses, and real prisoners do not wear them. Common prison garb is functional, but not comfortable. All prisoners look alike, and they are assigned a number.

This tells them immediately that they are no longer people, they are numbers. Once ensconced within the prison, the prisoners were constantly harassed by the guards. This is not a stretch from what happens in a real prison. The Stanford Prison Experiment shed new light on how prisoners should be treated, in light of the fact that prisoners and guards alike quickly fall into their roles and adopt a mentality according to their position.

The results of the experiment, though they are thirty-five years old, should be used to determine proper prison conditions and how prisoners in general should be treated. Dehumanizing prisoners does not benefit anyone; rather, prisoners are more likely to show a willingness to do what they are told if they are treated humanely. The prisoners at Attica had one chief complaint, and that was a request to be treated in a way that was humane. In the prison environment, controls must be in place to prevent the guards from becoming cruel dictators and the prisoners from accepting inhumane conditions without complaint or recourse.

Works Cited:. Newman, L. New York: Oxford University Press. Stanford prison experiment. Saletan, W May Situationist Ethics. Zimbardo, P Consent Form. Slide Show. This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Ethical Implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Accessed October 11, In case you can't find a relevant example, our professional writers are ready to help you write a unique paper.

Just talk to our smart assistant Amy and she'll connect you with the best match. Academic anxiety? Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task. Get your paper price experts online. Care Ethics and Emotional Response. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. He conducted it to see what happens when you put good normal people into an evil place. He wanted to confirm his theory, that if you put normal humans in an environment that is bad, such as a prison, people start to behave against their own nature. The prisoners will follow orders. These moral dilemmas created established professional and federal standards for performing research with human and animal participants, known as, psychological ethical codes.

The physical humiliation the participants were put through in the Stanford Prison experiment was uncalled for. It was not right to trade the suffering experienced by participants for knowledge gained because these people are left with physiological damage because of how they were treated. Like most college kids, you are strapped for cash, so you begin to seek a part time job. Little do you know at the time, that the study you are applying for will become known worldwide and create such an impact that it remains relevant over 44 years later. This infamous study is known today as the Stanford Prison Experiment.

The experiment. Ethical research is the foundation of moral understanding in human psychology. Research that does not compromise the morals or values of researchers, participants, and anyone involved is considered ethical research. There have been many studies whose ethics have been questioned. The Milgram Experiment is an example of an unethical research study. I choose to examine the Stanford Prison Study. This experiment was conducted by a famous psychologist named Philip Zimbardo.

This study focused on testing if and how quickly individuals would conform to social roles they were assigned. The experiment took place on the bottom floor of the psychology building at Stanford University which was transformed into a mock prison. In order to achieve the appearance of a real prison, the cells included bare walls, limited space, and bared doors and windows. Introduction Ethical guidelines are the frameworks and standards that govern psychologists in conducting a morally justified research to respect the rights of the participants.

Since the researchers are responsible for the welfare of the participants, it is vital for them to act in accordance with a specific strict code of ethics and moral principles. The guards in the prison experiment were encouraged by the experimenter to dominate and mistreat the prisoners, while the prisoners had their self-control, and their dignity, stripped from them through the abuse by the guards. The testimonies of the participants detailing their feelings of guilt and trauma only contributed to the negative spotlight that had been put on this experiment and the field of social psychology.

The experiment was followed by stronger ethical guidelines put in place.

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