Sample Psychology Essays on Dr. Zimbardo’s Study on Social Psychology

The Impact of Dr. Zimbardo’s Study on Social Psychology

Zimbaordo’s experiment on prisoners depicts the impacts of social roles on individual behaviors. The study was critical in understanding human response to captivity.  Emphasis was laid on the real life situations of the prisoners. According to Morris (2011) the respondents played the role of prisoners or guards. The guard wore glasses and had batons.  This was a sign of authority over the prisoners. Those who acted a prisoners were arrested, deloused and coercedto wear chains and prison uniform. The guards were aggressive and sadistic. Their ruthlessness acts were magnified in the night when the cameras were off. This led to the experiment becoming uncontrollable. An insurrection broke on the second day.  One of the acting prisoners got a psychosomatic rash after learning the he was subjected to parole. The experiment was terminated on the sixth day with the fear that one of the prisoners would be seriously hurt. This led to a change in the intended result. The outcome of the study demonstrated a manipulability and obedience of individuals. This occurs when individual are offered a legitimate ideology as well as social support.

Hours after the experiment began, the parties settled into the novice roles. The guards were the fastest in adopting their mandate. When the guards began to behave sadistically, the acting prisoners began to adopt prisoner-related behaviors. For example, they began sharing stories on prison issue and the guards. They began to take the regulation given to them seriously. This depicted that they expected some benefits from adhering to the set prison rules and feared that the consequences of infringing the rules.  Some of the prisoner’s began to collaborate with the guards against the prisoners who did not follow the prison rules.

After sometime, the relationship between the parties deteriorated. The guards fully controlled and the prisoners fully relied on the guards. The more the guards become contemptuous, the more the prisoners grew submissive. The prisoners continued to takeadvantage of the situation to oppress the prisoners further.

This experiment shows that persons easily conform to social duties that are expected to execute. This happens highly in cases where the duties arestereotyped. The prison served as a significant catalyst in influencing the behaviors of the guards. This shows that the social roles a person is exposed can influence the person’s attitudes and behaviors.

The experiment raised serious ethical concerns as the captives would be stripped and deloused before being locked.  Moreover, their belongings were taken from they were issued with clothes and wore no innerwear. This violates the human dignity. The process deindiviluazed the prisoners. Moreover, the study shows a cognitive dissonance theory. The powers of those in authority are also manifested. The prisoners were also subjected to extreme torture by the guards. It is worth noting that the victims were not prior to the experiment informed of the pain they will exposed to (Crawshaw, Cullen and Williamson, 2007).

Another ethical criticism arise from the fact the study was not predictable. This was because Zimbardo was not fully apprised of the various events that took place during the experiment.  Moreover, those who acted as prisoners were not protected. This is led to the prisoners being psychologically and physically being tortured. This is demonstrated by one of the prisoners who was released 36 hours after the experiment began. The prisoners was bursting screams, cries and anger.



Crawshaw, R., Cullen, S., & Williamson, T. (2007). Human rights and policing. Leiden [u.a.: Nijhoff.

Morris, E. (2011). Fathers and sons. United States: The Borgo Press.