Last Updated 19 Mar 2021

The Stanford (Zimbardo) Experiment

Words 979 (3 pages)
Views 489
Table of contents

The Stanford Experiment

What happens when you put good people in an evil place? How the environment affect behaviours , attitudes or beliefs of people? Philip Zimbardo was interested in this questions. Zimvardo choose a prison enviroment as the evil place. Zimbardo prepare the basement of Stanford University Psychlogy Department like a prison to avoid security problems. All of the conditions in basement change for experiment such as guards uniform , prisoners overalls, grates , dark cell etc. Zimbardo gave sun-glasses to guards to avoid personel relation between guards and prisoners with the barricade eye contact.

After the preperation had been completed , Zimbardo choose 21 people with no physically and mental healt issue. These people came after see the newspaper announce. Subjects seperated two groups as prisoners and guard randomly. Prisoners arrested like a real guilty and their eyes bandaged so they couldn’t recognize where they are. Firstly Zimbardo tell to guards conditions and rules. The rules are;

Haven’t found the relevant content? Hire a subject expert to help you with The Stanford (Zimbardo) Experiment

$35.80 for a 2-page paper

Hire verified expert

Guardians responsible for keep the pattern safe in prison.

If a prisoner escape , The experiment would have been terminated

As the last and most important one is no violance to prisoners.

First day the subjects of the experiment couldn’t adapt their roles but day by day guards have adapted their roles more than Zimbardo expected also prisoners. A few day later guards started to behave sadistic and tendency to physically violence. On the other hand prisoners had emotional problems. There are two key people on each side Guard John Wayne and Prisoner 8612. John Wayne had so sadictic behaviours and their leader character effect other guards. Actually, John Wayne play the Hand Luke role in this experiment.

John Wayne watched a movie called “Cool Hand Luke” in this movie there are a guardian named Hand Luke , John Wayne choose Hand Luke as a role model in this experiment. Prisoner 8612 The rebellion leader was Prisoner 8621. He was lead them to rebel against the rules and they make barriers with their beds to block guards. Guards punish Prisoner 8612 with staying the dark room. After the hard conditions , Prisoner 8612 decided quiting the experiment and then he gone to Zimbardo. Zimbardo tell him that If you stay in the experiment, I save you from bad behaviors of guards for telleing whatever prisoners do in cells. 612 confused and when he turn back to the cells tell other prisoners that “We can not get out of here”. And this effect the experiment essentially. Prisoner 8612 try to escape with patient role , by the time he adapted the patient role and he had mental problems. After that Zimbardo replace him with another subject Prisoner 416. When Prisoner 416 join there , he want to get out as soon as possible. Because Prisoner 416 had not adapted the role but everybody in prison adapted, and things that happenin in prison seems insane. Guards tell him that “Here is a real prison. and persuade Prisoner 416 to stay in. Prisoner 416 could not endure guards bad behaviour and he start hunger strike. John Wayne persuade other guards about the punisment of Prisoner 416 as a leader. Guards put in black room and punish other prisoners , and they say “You would punish because of Prisoner 416”. Other prisoners exclude Prisoner 416. Another psychologist Cristina Maslach came to observe the experiment and Maslach questioned its morality , and Zimbardo decided to terminate the experiment before 9days earlier.


The Stanford experiment ended on six days after it began. Zimbardo called both the guards and prisoners to a meeting and announced that the experiment is over. The experiment's results are  impressionability and obedience of people when provided with a legitimizing ideology and social and institutional support. Result are similar with Milgram experiment.

Criticism of Experiment

The guards, prisoners also Zimbardo adapted to their roles more completely than expected. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited sadistic tendencies. One-five of the Prisoners had emotional problems.

Unexpectedly, Zimbardo act a prison manager. This study was cleared by the Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association, showing that experiments on paper can look very different than the way that they play out in reality. The experiment was criticized as unethical and unscientific. The participants were only engaging in role-playing. In response, Zimbardo claimed that even if there was role-playing initially, participants internalized these roles as the experiment continued. More directly, though, it has been pointed out that, in contrast to Zimbardo's laim that participants were given no instructions about how to behave, his briefing of the guards gave them a clear sense that they should oppress the prisoners. In this sense the study was an exploration of the effects of tyrannical leadership. In line with this, certain guards, such as one known as "John Wayne", changed their behavior because of wanting to conform to the behavior that Zimbardo was trying to elicit.


Actually nobody can say the experiment fail because of early termination. The experiment over before 9 days earlier than planned but the results are so important as scientific.

  • We have to use Occam’s razor to get rid of less effective independent variables, Some independent variables for Guards result
  • Prison environment (as an evil place)
  • Contaminating variables
  • Power (as a Guard) Guard models (like Hand Luke) Moderator
  • Perfectly prepared prison environment Intervening variable
  • Losing responsibility Dependent variable
  • Acting Role perfectly Independent variables for Prisoners
  • Prison environment (as a pressure area)
  • Obedience instinct Moderator Prisoner 8621 say to other prisoners that “Noone can leave” Intervening variable
  • Individualization Dependent variable
  • Acting Roles and feel like a real prisoner

Assesment of the Experiment

The Stanford Experiment is a psychological experiment. Inputs are people so lots of contaminate variables effect the results. Elimination of contaminate variables processes is so important also a hard thing for the experiment. Zimbardo try to get reliable resolutions like randomization for guard and prisoner groups. But this experiment is an unrepeatable experiment so confidence interval of results had been accept true.

Haven’t found the relevant content? Hire a subject expert to help you with The Stanford (Zimbardo) Experiment

$35.80 for a 2-page paper

Hire verified expert

Cite this page

The Stanford (Zimbardo) Experiment. (2017, May 15). Retrieved from

Not Finding What You Need?

Search for essay samples now

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire verified expert