Last Updated 23 Jun 2020

How Roles and Statuses Affect Behavior

Category Behavior
Essay type Research
Words 556 (2 pages)
Views 278

How Roles and Statuses Affect Behavior There is a fine line between status and role. Status is the position or a rank in a group or social structure. An example of this would be the president, Barack H. Obama. The president is a status because it is a position in a social structure; in this case, Barack H. Obama would be the president of America. On the other hand, a role is an assumed or an expected way a person should behave. For example, a mother is an assumed position where as soon as a female gives birth, they are expected to take care of the child, and thus called “mother. In Philip G. Zimbardo’s article, “The Pathology Of Imprisonment,” (pg. 140, 2011) Zimbardo wanted to simulate a prison environment and see the psychological and how the roles of the guards and prisoners develop. Zimbardo did this by creating a advertisement in the newspaper and hired two dozen young men who were at first, all on the same playing field; all of them had no criminal record, emotionally stable, normal, and were all intelligent and from middle class families.

The important part about this is that the role of prisoner and the role of guard were chosen by the flip of a coin which meant that the roles were completely random and the prison environment would be the only factor in how it shaper the boys behaviors. Throughout the experiment, the boys were videotaped so that Zimbardo could observe the behavior. Very quickly Zimbardo noticed that the guards became more and more aggressive towards the prisoners, and the prisoners reacted exactly how a real prisoner would react.

Zimbardo states that the guards came up with many creative ways to control the prisoners. In one case, a rebellious prisoner, who refused to eat, was in solitary, and the rest of the prisoners were given a choice, whether to let the prisoner out and give up their blankets, or keep the blankets and keep the rebellious prisoner in solitary for the night. In the end, it was every man for himself and the rest of the prisoners chose to have their blankets.

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The only incentive for the prisoners was the pay of fifteen dollars per day, but some had to be cut short because of their reactions to the prison environment, such as crying, depression, and insanity. It was clear that the boys who were supposed to play the role of prisoners and guards were now acting in the mindset as if their status was really the prisoner and the guard. In fact, the experiment got too realistic and Zimbardo’s two-week experiment had to be cut short to six days. In Harvey Molotch’s article, (pg. 66, 2011)“The Rest Room and Equal Opportunity,” the author argues that even if men and women have equal amount of space in the bathrooms, it does not guarantee equal opportunity in the bathrooms because of the different roles of women and men. Men can use urinals, which take up less space than toilets and women need their own private stalls because of their specific needs. The author also suggests how western culture shapes the way how women use the bathroom, such as doing make up and gossiping. Therefore the differences in roles of women and men cause unequal opportunities even if they are given the same opportunity.

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How Roles and Statuses Affect Behavior. (2017, Jun 12). Retrieved from

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