Conformity - Zimbardos Research - Coggle Diagram
Conformity - Zimbardos Research
Social roles : The 'parts' people play as members of various social groups . E.g parent , child , student , passenger . these are accompanied by expectations we and others have of what is appropriate behavior in each role
Procedure : A mock prison was set up in the basement of the psychology department at Stanford University . Students were advertised for and those that were deemed emotionally stable after extensive psychological testing were chosen . Students were randomly assigned the roles of prisoner or prison guard .
'Prisoners' were arrested at their homes to increase realism . They were then blindfolded , strip-searched , deloused and issued a uniform and number
Prisoners had heavily regulated daily routines , there were 16 rules they had to follow and these were enforced by guards
Guards had a uniform with a wooden club , handcuffs , keys and mirror shades and they were told they had complete power over the prisoners
Findings : After a slow start the guards took up their roles with enthusiam but their behavior became a threat to prisoners mental and physical health and the study was stopped after 6 days instead of 14 .
Within 2 days prisoners rebelled e.g ripped uniforms , shouted and screamed . The guards employed 'divide and rule' tactics by playing prisoners off against one another and harrassed prisoners constantly to remind them that they were always under surveillance .
One prisoner was released after the first day due to signs of psychological disturbance . Two more were released on the first day . One prisoner went on hunger strike
De-individuation was noticeable by the prisoners as they referred to themselves and others by their prison numbers
In later interviews guards and prisoners said that they were shocked by their behavior
The situational hypothesis is favored as none of the participants had shown such character traits or behavior before the study
Individuals conform to the social roles demanded of a situation even when the roles override an individuals moral beliefs about their personal behaviour
Both guards and prisoners demonstrated social roles gained from media sources and learned models of social power
Control : Zimbardo and his colleagues had some control over variables e.g the selection of participants - this is one way researchers tried to rule out individual personality differences as an explanation of findings . This increases internal validity
Lack of realism : Some may argue that participants were play acting rather than genuinely conforming to the role . Their performances were based on stereotypes e.g the film ' Cool hand luke" . However quantitative data showed that 90% of conversations were about prison life - it seems that the situation was very real to participants which gives a high degree of internal validity
Role of dispositional influences : Some people may say that zimabrdo exaggerated the power of the situation to influence behavior and minimizing the role of personality factors ( dispositional influences ) . E.g the different attitudes of guards suggests that they were able to exercise right and wrong choices despite the situational pressures
Ethical issues : Zimbardos dual roles in the study e.g Zimbardo spoke to a prisoner wanting to leave and he was more concerned about the running of the prison rather than his responsibilities to the participants
Lack of Research support : The study was reconnected in 2006 and roles were the other way round , prisoners treated guards badly . Researchers used social identity theory to explain this - the guards failed to develop a a shared social identity as a cohesive group but the prisoners did
To investigate the extent to which people would conform to the roles of guard and prisoner in a role playing simulation of prison life
To test the dispositional vs situational hypotheses that saw prison violence as either due to the sadistic personalities or guards and prisoners or to the brutal conditions of the prison experiment