Accession Number:

AD0751041

Title:

Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison

Descriptive Note:

Technical rept.

Corporate Author:

STANFORD UNIV CA DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Report Date:

1972-10-01

Pagination or Media Count:

56.0

Abstract:

Interpersonal dynamics in a prison environment were studied experimentally by designing a functional simulation of a prison in which subjects role-played prisoners and guards for an extended period of time. To assess the power of the social forces on the emergent behavior in this situation, alternative explanations in terms of pre-existing dispositions were eliminated through subject selection. Many of the subjects ceased distinguishing between prison role and their prior self-identities. When this occurred, a sample of normal, healthy American college students fractionated into a group of prison guards who seemed to derive pleasure from insulting, threatening, humiliating, and dehumanizing their peers--those who by chance selection had been assigned to the prisoner role. The typical prisoner syndrome was one of passivity, dependency depression, helplessness, and self- deprecation.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE