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Analysis of Zimbardo's Prison Experiment (Reaction Paper Sample)


its a critic on zambardo prison experiment

Analysis of Zimbardo's Prison Experiment
The main theme in this psychology experiment conducted by Zimbardo was to the social concept of obedience to authority. Obedience refers to the compliance by an individual to commands given to another. In everyday activities, human beings obey orders for various reasons. To some, obey orders comes with rewards, to others it is a moral duty, and to others disobedience has consequences. An authority is an essential institution in every society. For peaceful co-existence, People are bound to respect the authority for the maintenance of law and order and hence disobedience comes with consequences. Phillip Zimbardo conducted a prison experiment to study obedience to authority, and this paper will analyze the prison experiment using Enrich Fromm arguments.
The prison experiment was conducted as Phillip Zimbardo, who sought to determine the response of prisoners to their prison environment and their obedience to authority within the prison. The prison used college students, who had no criminal record, and comprised of both Canadian and United States of America students. The experiment used the police to arrest students who informed the students of the charges and constitutional rights are took them to police stations before being transferred to prisons (Zimbardo 733).The study was done in a mock prison as opposed to a real prison due to the privacy and immunity granted to prison institutions from observation and outsider investigation. The mock prison used University of Sanford psychology block and transformed into a prison through blocking windows, installing sound recorders and cameras, and converting corridors to prison yards. Tutors offices were used as prison warden’s quarters (Zimbardo 733). The mock prison design was designed to invoke psychological reactions seen in major prisons. Zimbardo adopted the concept of mock prison after consultants with correctional officers, reformed ex-convicts, and prison staff. The information was supplemented by literature reviews of prison institutions research documents. The researcher obtained and informed consent from the participants and informed them that some of their civil rights and their right to privacy were to be violated in the exercise (Zimbardo 735). However, the mock prison had to release few prisoners after they developed anxiety and others become depressed. The exercise had a timeline of two weeks but only lasted for six days and six nights as the participants, both prisoners and wardens became psychologically disturbed.
The research concluded that the prisoners who couldn’t endure for a long had low authoritarian levels and couldn’t survive when exposed to the authoritative prison environments. The authoritarian environments become harsh not only to prisoners but also to wardens. The prison guards reacted by threatening the inmates, acting violently, and verbally abused them. Prisoners and guards reaction to the hostile environment can be described as sadism. Enrich Fromm defined sadism as "the ultimate wish for control over a fellow human being’’(Fromm 34) Sadism was illustrated when some guards became so depressed and resorted to extreme hostility to the inmates. As a result, the prisoners begun to react passively to the guards’ hostility and most remained calm.
The research findings are subject to a debate on whether they validity can be ascertained. In this section, the paper will use Fromm arguments to analyze the prison experiment critically. First, Zimbardo argued that prisons transform normal people who have been incarcerated innocently into either submissive beings, abject, or sadists. However, the experiment did not prove the said results. Many of the prisoners did not transform into sadists, and it is the guards who jostled for control over the inmates. As Fromm puts it, "the experiment proves that a situation cannot psychologically transform an individual within few days" (Fromm 54) The experiment failed to consider the underlying difference between character and behavior. It is different to become violent when exposed to violent acts and to enjoy cruelty against others. The failure to distinguish the two issues affected the credibility of the study.
It is important to note that prisoners were informed that this was a mock experiment and not actual prison. It is surprising that some three inmates became depressed and one cried continually through the entire period. The incident raises the question whether the inmates were able to distinguish between experiment and reality. They were arrested by real police and informed the charges and their rights without any further explanation. Although the participants were informed of the mock exercise, the failure by the police to inform them that the arrest was the start of the experiment may have confused them. The confusion caused some of the participants to believe that they were locked up in a real prison because law enforcement agencies are rarely involved in experimental exercises. Fromm summed it up by posing the question, "How were they supposed to know that the experiment began when real police officers were involved”(Fromm 56). The study reveals that the inmates had no knowledge of the relationship between the study and the police arrest.
The experiment results did not disclose wheth...
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