Thoughts on The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment; a revolutionary 'experiment' that was meant to explore the effects of perceived power by following the development of roles between fake prisoners and guards. Although this experiment did evaluate the roles of social expectations, it also brought into perspective the true value of perceived power, how far people are willing to, and stimulated heated debates over the use of human subjects in psychology. However, I don't believe this experiment was an experiment at all, I believe that this experiment turned into a literal demonstration of power and corruption, in which even Zimbardo became a subject.

Dr. Phillip Zimbardo pictured above

This experiment ultimately demonstrated the lengths people would go to, to preserve their power and status. And in my opinon, there were two monsters, one of the guards (Edelman) and Zimbardo himself. Zimbardo got so caught up in the role of being the prison warden that he often disconnected himself from the innocent subjects and truly saw them as bad prisoners. Zimbardo himself became a part of the percieved hierarch and was unable to let go or see how extreme the experiment had gotten. He even ha The second monster was a guard who deemed himself to be the John Wayne of the group, and took matters to complete extremes. Even after reflecting on his role, the guard shows no remorse, smiles throughout, and says that he was conducting his own experiment to see how far he would be able to go since no one questioned his authority. That is a bunch of bull since 1 - the prisoners constantly questioned his authority by revolting, and 2 - he distances himself because he knows that he came off as such a fool. Yet, as disgusted as I am with the guards behavior, the truth is that no one knows how they would act in that situation. No one knows whether they would be the obedient or rebellious prisoner, and no body knows whether they would be the 'John Wayne' guard or the devastated bystander type.

The "John Wayne" Guard pictured on the right

Do I think this experiment was unethical - yes. Do I think this experiment was necessary - I don't know.

Yet ultimately, the outcome wass that power corrupts, evil comes from hierarchy - the bad in people took over, and no one truly knows what they're capable of. I do still wonder though what would have happened if after a certain time period the roles got switched - guard to prisoner and vise versa.

But the real mystery is why I'm writing this college like assignment, on my so called blog, during my summer 'vacation'.

Adios, this is my last intellectual blogpost. Let's see what else I will 'blog' about in the future.

Photos + website © 2018 by Michal Cohen