The Stanford Experiment is one of the most controversial and shocking experiments of the last century. The work focused on the study of human nature, the response to various stressors associated with the restriction of freedom, and the changes caused by the acquisition of power. The experiment showed that a person’s mental health and behavioral patterns are fragile enough to be easily influenced by severe stress.
During the experiment, the guards and inmates began to lose their identity and sense of reality. The prisoners experienced a real sense of fear, doom, and dependence on the guards, despite the realization that this was not the real situation. Some guards were seen exceeding their authority and displaying intense sadistic and derogatory tendencies. Inmates with weaker mental conditions began calling themselves by numbers, asking for a lawyer, and starting a veritable riot against the injustice of the prison system. Some of them tried to rebel against the unjustified brutality of the guards. The guards stopped realizing that they were also participants in the experiment and showed an unhealthy tendency to bully and ridicule dependent people. According to Le Texie, the experiment cannot be considered complete due to many moral questions, inaccuracies, bias, and exaggeration of the events taking place (823). The experiment still raises a lot of controversy about the validity of psychological violence in the context of the experiment and impartiality.
The Stanford Experiment has undoubtedly left its mark on the history of exploratory psychology. It clearly shows the fragility of human perception and sense of reality. Both sides of the experiment blurred the visible line between reality and a fictional situation, trying on the roles of victim and torturer. These results can be used in subsequent studies of mental stability and models of human behavior under conditions of increased stress.
Le Texier, Thibault. “Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment.” American Psychologist, vol. 74, no. 7, 2019, pp. 823–839.
The Stanford Prison Experiment: A Simulation Study on the Psychology of Imprisonment. Sandford Prison Experiment, 1999. Web.