"What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph?"
–Professor Philip G. Zimbardo
If you didn't already know, The Stanford Experiment is based off of a true story, one of good intentions that to easily went awry.
The focus of this experiment was to showcase the extreme psychological effects prison life has on inmates and prison guards alike. In 1971, Professor Philip G. Zimbardo created a mock prison, using a flip of a coin to decide the fate of his volunteer undergrads. Half became prisoners, half became the guards.
What occurred in the short span of 6 days has caused a lasting affect on science, the volunteers and Philip G. Zimbardo.
Here are a few facts to know before watching this amazing movie.
- There was absolutely no difference between the prisoners and the guards before the experiment began.
- The guards were left to create their own set of rules (within limits). Everything they did, they thought up themselves.
- In a matter of 3 days, prisoners began calling themselves by their numbers, not their actual names.
- The use of push-ups were used to punish prisoners, the same tactic Nazis used in concentration camps.
- 2 prisoners suffered mental breakdowns before the 6 days were up, forcing themselves to be taken home. However, the guards and Philip G. Zimbardo himself, thought they were faking at first, (like a real prison).
- The prisoners forgot it was an experiment, they truly believed they were never getting out.
- Each prisoner went up for parole and said they would give up the money if they could just leave and were asked to wait in their cell while it was decided. The fact is they could have just left, but they fell into their submissive, abused roles so completely.
- When a final prisoner was brought in he was told there was no escape. He was put in solitary for hours and began to for get his own name. (Prisoners in real jails have been held for longer then a year in solitary)
- Over 50 people, including parents saw the prison and did not object, each person fell into a typical role of submissive to guards and prison super-intendant.
- Only one person, Christina Maslach, objected to the way this experiment completely dissolved and forced Philip G. Zimbardo to terminate it a near 6 days into the 14 day trial.
- Philip G. Zimbardo himself admits that he was thinking more like a prison super, then a scientist conducting a safe research experiment.
- It is noticed that 3 prisoners left the study, yet no guards left, showed up late for their shift, or asked for extra pay when they stayed over time.