Case study(role-play): Stanford Prison Experiment


Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)


Aim: To investigate how readily people would conform to the roles of guard and prisoner in a role-playing exercise that simulated prison life.

(Come from sources)

One of the similarities Stanford Prison Experiment and Mafia shares is revealing role play effects in the ‘game’ and teaches people to distinguish right from wrong. I would like to call it a trial, how players react to their character and how psychological effect influences them.

They were fingerprinted, photographed and ‘booked’.

The first step was to give them a general identity as a criminal.

The use of ID numbers was a way to make prisoners feel anonymous.

The second was to make them unimportant, suppress their power.

All guards were dressed in identical uniforms of khaki, and they carried a whistle around their neck and a billy club borrowed from the police.

While making ‘prisoners’ weaker, they also made ‘guards’ stronger as an authority

Guards were instructed to do whatever they thought was necessary to maintain law and order in the prison and to command the respect of the prisoners.

They also gave ‘guards’ potential power to abuse, possible space to push the line

Within hours of beginning the experiment some guards began to harass prisoners.

Having given the power to ‘guards’, they started to use it

Over the next few days the relationships between the guards and the prisoners changed, with a change in one leading to a change in the other. Remember that the guards were firmly in control and the prisoners were totally dependent on them.

The change was shown, one is dominant than the other, but that is the question, it is what they seem to be or?

In the end, the experiment ended up on the sixth day rather than a fortnight as Zimbardo expected, which explained how situational behaviour can influence people.

ARE ‘GUARDS’ as brutal as who they really are? Are ‘prisoners’ as helpless as who they are?

According to the research, ‘guards’ were not sadistic before experiment, it is the pressure from power they have. Like mafia, the concept is to see who is good and who is bad, it is not necessarily Angel is the goodness, werewolf is the evil – we want to challenge the stereotype.


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