What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist and a professor at Stanford University posed the same exact question in 1971, thereby leading to what is known as The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE). The experiment was originally created to uncover the truth about human nature, a more in-depth look on what our true ambitions were, what really drove us. Zimbardo began by choosing 24 volunteers, making 12 of them “guards” and the other 12 “prisoners”. They were taken to a prison simulation, a fabricated illusion to make the volunteers feel as if they were actually in prison. He began by giving the guards ultimate power and left the prisoners vulnerable. This evidently led to a distinction of power between the two groups. 45 years later, people still ponder the question that drove the experiment to its end. Was this study ethically right? The Stanford Prison Experiment was not ethically right, it stripped volunteers of emotion temporarily, forcing them to turn against each other and was physically harmful to the majority of the participants.
What makes a good person do a bad thing? Why do people partake in events when they know what they are doing is contrary to their own moral beliefs?
Group mentality and conformity play major roles in human behavior. We explore the Stanford Prison Experiment, Asch Conformity Experiment, and the social roles these psychological concepts play in history and today.