Tag Archives | Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment: Dr. Philip Zimbardo Looks Back On The Controversial Psychological Study

If you haven’t heard of Phil Zambardo and the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, you soon will. Science World Report gets us started:

In 1971, 24 college students from Stanford University willingly participated in one of the most revealing yet controversial psychological experiment of all time – The Stanford Prison Experiment. The experiment demonstrated how the behavior of decent ordinary people could be altered – how a “perfect storm” of certain factors can serve to manifest humanity’s darker impulses.

Today, 44 years since the experiment first took place, a new movie on the study is hitting the big screen beginning July, 17. The drama stars Billy Crudup of “Almost Famous,” as the lead investigator, Philip Zimbardo. (A German movie was also made about the study in 2001, and a 2010 take starred Forest Whitaker and Adrien Brody.)


Philip Zimbardo. Photo by Luke poa (CC)


Zimbardo noted how the idea for the experiment had initially come from earlier research done by his high-school classmate, Stanley Milgram.

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A Serious Challenge to the Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments

“Authority allows two roles: the torturer and the tortured” – V for Vendetta, Alan Moore.

Picture: PaulR (CC)

A serious challenge to theories regarding human behaviour based upon the ground breaking Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments has been reported. Humans who choose to follow roles given them by authority figures actually relish the process more than was previously imagined, even when it involves gross acts of cruelty, according to The Telegraph:

Professor Stephen Reicher, Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of St Andrews, and Professor Alex Haslam of the University of Queensland, Australia, have published [a] paper in the journal PLos-Biology on the nature of tyranny and evil.


Professor Reicher said: “In short, people do harm not because they are unaware that they are doing wrong, but because they believe that they are doing right.

“It is this conviction that steels participants to do their dirty work, and that makes them act energetically and creatively to ensure its success.”

The study began when the two researchers ran their own prison experiment, which was broadcast by the BBC in 2002.

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