In 1971 Phillip Zimbardo conducted a controversial study know as the Stanford prison experiment. The experiment was a psychological study of human reactions to being imprisoned and how the effects would interfere with the normal behaviors of both authorities and the inmates in prison. Zimbardo and his team hypothesized “that prison guards and convicts were self selecting of a certain disposition that would naturally lead to poor conditions. ” Zimbardo used undergraduate volunteers to play the roles of the guards and the prisoners in a mock prison he created in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.
He then recorded how both the prisoners and guards quickly adapted to their roles, and soon this lead to one-third of the authorities taking place in sadistic acts towards the prisoners, which was argued to have lead to psychologically harmful situations. Due to the appalling conditions of the prison, both sanitarily and psychologically the experiment ended on August 30, 1971 just six days after it began, which was eight days short of the foresighted fourteen days it was supposed to have lasted.
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Many similarities in the ethical concerns of the Stanford experiment were found in the Milgram experiment which was conducted in 1961 by Stanley Milgram one of Zimbardo’s high school friends. In order to help find a large quantity of participants Zimbardo and his team sent out a newspaper ad offering fifteen dollars a day for a sum of fourteen days totaling in $210. 00 for the full two weeks. Figuring in inflation that would be $77 a day and $1,078 for the full two weeks. According to section A of ADA ethics code 8. 6: “Psychologists make reasonable efforts to avoid offering or inappropriate financial or other inducements for research participation when such inducements are likely to coerce participation. ” Concluding from this statement Zimbardo broke 8. 06 of the ADA ethics code by offering the participants a large amount of money and did not make any known efforts to avoid offering this large sum of money. This was not the only code that was not followed according to the APA Ethics code.
When Zimbardo noticed the barbaric and sadistic acts used by the prison guards towards the prisoners he did not make any efforts to interfere with these practices. The more the experiment went out of hand the more the prisoners suffered and accepted the humiliating treatment from the guards. Rather than Zimbardo following the rules of section C of 8. 08 Debriefing codes he just dismissed those participants who he saw high levels of stress. Section C of 8. 8 which states: “When Psychologists become aware that research procedures have harmed a participant, they take reasonable steps to minimize the harm. ” By not making sure that the conditions stayed livable and stress free he also broke APA Ethics code 8. 04 Section A which states: “When psychologists conduct research with clients/patients, students, or subordinates as participants, psychologists take steps to protect the prospective participants from adverse consequences of declining or withdrawing from participants. The conditions had so quickly grew out of hand that Zimbardo found himself getting absorbed in the experiment he became the Prison Superintendent and when he heard rumors of the prisoners escaping he tried to relocate the experiment to a more secure facility. The conditions became “inhospitable; and bathroom rights became privileges which were often denied. ” To make this experiment hospitable I would have some interference with the experiment, by making sure that the authorities did not get out of control and that no physical harm or psychological harm was done.
I would do this by laying down more ground rules and have constant observation over the experiment and if necessary at the risk of interfering with the results I would interfere with the practices. I would also not use students I would go to a prison and conduct this experiment on willing authorities and prisoners. I would also not provide such a substantial amount of money, I would just try to get participants who were willing to volunteer and talk to the school for possible extra credit hours or school hours.