Read “Zimbardo’s Experiment: The Individual and the Social Role,” located on page 48 of the textbook. Discuss one (1) alternative approach to the one used in the Zimbardo experiment to investigate how role expectations shape behavior. Provide a rationale for your response.Please respond in 2 paragraphs and at least 7 complete sentences all together.-
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ZIMBARDO’S EXPERIMENT: THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE SOCIAL ROLE
Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo
(1974; Haney, Banks, & Zimbardo,
1973) wanted to investigate how role
expectations shape behavior. He was
intrigued by the possibility that the
frequently observed cruelty of prison
guards was a consequence of the
institutional setting and role, not the
In an experiment that has since
become well known, Zimbardo
converted the basement of a Stanford
University building into a makeshift
prison. A newspaper ad seeking young
men to take part in the experiment for
pay drew 70 subject candidates, who
were given a battery of physical and
psychological tests to assess their
emotional stability and maturity. The
most mature 24 were selected for the
experiment and randomly assigned
to roles as “guards” or “prisoners.’
Those assigned to be prisoners were
“arrested,” handcuffed, and taken
to the makeshift prison by the Palo
Alto police. The behavior of the
guards and the prisoners was filmed.
Within a week, the prison setting
took on many of the characteristics
of actual prisons. The guards were
often aggressive and seemed to
take pleasure in being cruel. The
prisoners began planning escapes
and expressed hostility and bitterness
toward the guards
The subjects in the experiment
so identified with their respective
roles that many of them displayed
Despite questions about the ethics of Philip Zimbardo’s experiment, sociologists still study
his work. Is it wrong to use research data gathered by means we now consider unethical?
Do the results of research ever justify subjecting human beings to physical or psychological
discomfort, invasion of privacy, or deception?
shows how profoundly private
lives are shaped by the behavioral
expectations of the roles we occupy
in social institutions.
signs of depression and anxiety.
As a result, some were released
early, and the experiment was
canceled before the first week was
over. Since the participants had all
been screened for psychological
and physical problems, Zimbardo
concluded that the results could not
be attributed to their personalities.
Instead, the prison setting itself (the
independent variable) appeared to
be at the root of the guards’ brutal
behavior and the prisoners’ hostility
and rebelliousness (the dependent
variable). Zimbardo’s research
THINK IT THROUGH
Zimbardo’s experiment could
not be repeated today, as it would
violate guidelines for ethical research
with human subjects. How might
a researcher design an ethical
experiment to test the question of the
circumstances under which apparently
“normal” individuals will engage in
violent or cruel acts?
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