Social Psychology

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  1. How did Zimbardo originally think of or conceptualize the Stanford Prison Experiment?

Zimbardo coined the term “Stanford Prison Experiment” and theobjective of the project was to examine how readily individuals wouldimitate to the roles of the guard and prisoner in a role-playingworkout that replicated the prison life (Heney et al., 1973 Drury etal., 2012 Krenning, 2007). The project was first seen from being alittle social psychology demonstration but turned to focus on theinfluential power over persons in groups.

  1. How did Zimbardo see this experiment in relation to Stanley Milgram’s Yale Obedience Study?

In the first place, the experiment was more of social psychologydemonstration, while the Milgram study was the power of thesituation. According to Zimbardo, Milgram’s work focused onone-on-one social power, while the prison experiment focused oninstitutional power over individual behavior in groups.

  1. What was some of the historical context or relevance in Zimbardo specifically selecting a simulated prison as the context for his social experiment?

One was the two real prison demonstration and the second wasChronology piece that produced a compelling documentary called[prisoner] 819 Dis a Bad Thing. Another historical context that madeZimbardo select simulated prison for his social experiment was Atticauprising because of the murder of George Jackson, and this madeprisons became hot. The demonstration had a profound impact ofinstitutional forces on the behavior of the standard. Similarly, toachieve their objective of their experiment, Zimbardo, and hiscolleagues sought to determine to what the violence and anti-socialbehaviors often found in prisons can be traced to the “bad apples”that go into prison and can corrupt the conduct of a real ordinarypeople.

  1. What are some of the ethical issues or concerns of the Stanford Prison Experiment that Zimbardo identifies/acknowledges in his responses to the interviewers in this article?

One of the ethical problems that Zimbardo identifies is that peoplemight get stressed, however, at the end of the day, one the learnersaid that he was never shocked. Besides, there was fear of believingthat you had shocked while you were going through the experience. Onthe other hand, every question was unethical in the sense that theboys had emotional breakdowns and those that did not have nervousbreakdown were blindly obedient to corrupt authority by the guards.Other ethical issues include participants playing the role ofprisoners were not protected from psychological harm (Zimbardo etal., 1971 Zimberdo, 2001).

  1. How has Zimbardo applied the lessons of the experiment to more recent examples of evil acts or specific headlines (e.g. in politics, war crimes, etc.)?

One of the examples where Zimbardo applied the lesson learned fromthe experiment was when he started anti-Vietnam teach-ins held at theUniversity of Michigan. Zimbardo provided the knowledge on theconsequences of the war, and this made him the political activist.Secondly, when Robert Mc Namara was given honorary degree, yet he wasone of the principal architects of the war, Zimbardo organized apeaceful and respectful walk out together with faculty, students, andparents.

  1. How is anonymity related to deindividuation, according to additional research Zimbardo conducted since the Stanford Prison Experiment (e.g. NYU study)?

Anonymity is related to deindividuation in the sense that when aperson or healthy individuals make themselves anonymous, thissituation will give them permission to do evil things. This isbecause the general human nature is that good and evil come to us buthowever changing the external appearance is enough to modify themorality. Similar to deindividuation, where Zimbardo provides anexample that women who are made to feel anonymous, in the groupsetting, given a chance to inflict pain, exert pain twice as muchcompared to those women who were identifiable. Besides,deindividuation is a necessary process that, for instance, in prison,it puts people in uniform, talking their name away, and giving them anumber.

  1. How did Zimbardo get involved in exploring heroism and more positive aspects of psychology?

Zimbardo gets involved in exploring heroism when he was invited togive a talk on the journey from evil to heroism, yet heroism does notseem to exist in the positive psychology. Author like Peterson dwellson strength and virtues, however, he does not mention bravery. ToZimbardo, heroism is the transformation of compassion into a socialaction. Therefore, to him, there is no way one can have the positivepsychology that does not impact behavior. He believed that otherfactors of positive psychology include altruism, compassion, andempathy. Heroism is the civic virtue that is the transformation ofprivate virtues into action (Zimbardo et al., 2001).

  1. In what way do the results of the Stanford Prison Experiment reflect Zimbardo’s quote from the article that, “the prison study was a demonstration of how good people can do bad things”?

The result from Stanford Prison Experiment indicated that ordinarypeople can be influenced by villains and drug dealers to do badthings (Drury et al., 2012). However, these individuals when taughtto be everyday wise and effective heroes in very precise ways, usingcognitive psychology, awareness of bias, awareness of in-attentionalblindness, awareness of illusions, and outreach of bystander effectcan change the social psychology of an individual.

  1. In what ways does Zimbardo’s heroism work suggest that heroism can be taught or socialized within a society?

According to Zimbardo’s heroism work, an organized, important, andresourceful program that fortifies the general public against thelore of the dark side can inspire the society to brighter side andwill teach people how to be powerful heroes (Drury et al., 2012).They have achieved through their Web Site, where they teach usingvideo clips, the online education program that will fortify youthsagainst the powerful influences of those in the dark side and inspirethem to the brighter side if heroism. In this case, heroism islearnable, coachable, and should be pervasive.

  1. Open comments: Share any new insights you learned about Zimbardo or his famous experiment after reading this interview.

According to this interview, I think that Mr. Zimbardo was attemptingto show what occurred when all of the eccentricity and dignity wasunprotected away from a human, and their life was entirelycontrolled. Similarly, he wanted to show that dehumanization andloosening of social and moral values that can happen to guardsimmersed in the situation like riots. On the other hand, humanpersonality as well as strength and agility varies greatly withinmankind.


Drury et al. (2012). Philip G. Zimbardo on his Career and theStanford Prison Experiment’s 40TH Anniversary.History of Psychology, 2012, Vol. 15 (2) 161-170.

Krenning, L. (2007). The Stanford Prison Experiment. Print.

Haney et al. (1973). Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison. International Journal of Criminology and Penology, Vol. 1 69-79.

Zimbardo, P., Haney, C., Banks, C., and Jaffe, D. (1971). TheStanford Prison Experiment: A Simulation Study of the Psychology ofImprisonment. Stanford University.

Zimbardo, P. (2002). On the Ethics of Intervention in HumanPsychological Research: With Special Reference to the Stanford PrisonExperiment. Internet Resource.

Zimbardo, P., Maslach, C., and Haney, C. (2001). Chapter 11:Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis,Transformations, and Consequences. Internet resource.

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