Zimbardo’s Study of ObedienceDescription
In Zimbardo’s prison simulation there were 10 prisoners and 11 guards. The participants were all male and middle classed. During the experiment they were paid $15 a day. The participants who were chosen to be the prisoners were arrested in front of all their family and friends, who did not know they were part of the experiment. The prisoners were then blindfolded while being taken to the mock prison and then finger printed and made to strip naked and stand in the yard. They were then briefed on the rules. The prisoners were to be locked in the prison 24 hours a day, but the guards were allowed to go home at night unless they were on duty. The prisoners because passive very quickly, but the guards took a very active role. Five prisoners had to be released because of depression, anxiety and crying and the study was ended after six days. The prisoners were very happy the experiment was over, but the guards were not; they seemed to have liked the power and control they had been given. None of the Guards were ever late for their shifts.

The situation the participants were placed in was not natural; they new the experiment was only for a maximum of two weeks and there were restrictions on what the guards were allowed to do as there were experiments watching what was going on, so they would not have behaved as they may have done naturally in a prison situation. The guards seemed to feel rewarded by the power they had, and some may have taken advantage of this, as it was a fixed situation in which they were in control; this could be the case in real prisons. The way the prisoner took different ways to cope with the situation my reflect how they would if they were really in prison, firstly by rebelling, then by accepting they could not be in control and so losing their identity; this is another thing that could occur in a real prison situation. A criticism about the experiment was that the participants might have just been acting out the roles they felt they were paid to do. Because they were paid they would feel it was their duty to play the role they were given. They may have seen things in the media reflecting how prisoner and guard act, and may have tried to be like them. The participants all gave informed consent as they were all briefed fully on what the experiment would entail, but if they were chosen to be the prisoner they were not given the right to leave the experiment, so they were breaking ethical guidelines. The participants that played the role of prisoners also suffered a lot of harm and distress during the experiment, one even developed a rash, but four of them suffered from depression or anxiety. The experiment may not have reflect how people would react to the situation in general because they were all male, and all middle classed, as well as many oif them being students.