Skip to main content

Stanford Prison Experiment Response bias, Are the conclusions valid?

Stanford Prison Experiment

Almost 50 years after the Stanford Prison Experiment (zimbardo), which is considered one of the milestones in behavioral psychology, it turns out that much of it was fake. Conclusions about stanford prison experiment.
Stanford Prison Experiment Response bias

"How we went about testing these questions and what we found in the stanford experiment (philip zimbardo) may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, In our prison experiment guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress".

This is how Philip Zimbardo summed up the experiment. In 1971, it was one of the most recognized psychological experiments in the world. Its findings were extensively covered in the media and influenced the perception of many in terms of the role of prisons, the source of criminal behavior and the responsibility a person has for his actions. Almost 50 years later, French filmmaker Thibault Le Texier, backed with documents and experimental recordings, reveals that this summary was simply not true. The "sadistic" behavior of the prison guards did not appear on its own - the researchers nurtured and prepared it. The despair and pressure of the prisoners were, in part, simply a show.

Eighteen students from Stanford University participated in the experiment. Nine of them were chosen, by tossing a coin, to be the guards, and the other nine were prisoners. They were "arrested" by the Palo Alto police in their home and brought in a handcuffed car to a police vehicle that took them to the station. Finally, they were transferred to the "prison": the basement of the building of the psychology department at the university. About a third of the guards, Zimbardo and his colleagues reported, behaved cruelly toward the prisoners, and it grew worse as the experiment progressed. They were not allowed to beat the prisoners, but found other ways to humiliate and injure them: they forced them to repeat the prisoner's numbers repeatedly, gave them exhaustive physical training, let them relieve themselves in the bucket and refused to remove him from the cell.

Zimbardo's conclusions from the brief experiment were far-reaching: the situation we are in, he argued, is largely responsible for our behavior and our mental state. The cruel behavior of the prison guards, as well as the prisoners' depression and helplessness, did not stem from the tendencies they entered the experiment with, but from the situation in which they found themselves.

Are the conclusions valid?

Just two months after the experiment, Zimbardo testified before the US Congressional Committee and mentioned the results of his experiment in the context of the American prison system. His main argument was that the state of the prisons in the US necessarily produces severe pathological reactions in both prisoners and prison guards. Thus, Zimbardo claimed that incarceration of people, by its very nature, is inhumane.

The research has been widely publicized and is still being taught in psychology courses in many academic institutions. Reviews from 2014 and 2015 found that he appears in almost all textbooks for these courses in the United States, and most of its results are reported without criticism. Historians relied on him to try to understand various events, including the conduct of German soldiers during the Holocaust. The prison experiment appeared again the headlines in 2004, after US soldiers were exposed to abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Zimbardo claimed in the interviews that this was not a matter of "weeds," but that the culprit was in a situation in which the guards found themselves. He even provided expert testimony for one of the defendants.

Despite the impact that research had on the general public, the scientific community was skeptical. The first publication of the study was not in a scientific journal, but in the New York Times. Following the report, many psychologists criticized the experiment, both in terms of research work and ethics. The psychologists Alex Haslam and Stephen Reicher, who tried to reconstruct the study, produced completely different results.

In addition, over the years, researchers have claimed that some of the events in the experiment were merely play and pretend, and that the interrogators gave the guards clear instructions on how to behave - in stark contrast to what Zimbardo and his colleagues presented. Documents and recordings, some of which were not previously revealed, confirm the claims regarding the influence of the interrogators on the behavior of the prison guards.

Response bias

According to Zimbardo's instructions to the "guards", there was no physical abuse, but boredom and frustration were invoked by establishing rules and punishments in the prison. Zimbardo's research assistants handed the rules and punishments to the guards contrary to Zimbardo's statement that the participants thought of all the rules themselves. On the tape, one of them tells the participant to behave like a "tough guard," while the participant says that if it depended on him, he would act differently.

Haslam and Reicher, the researchers who failed to replicate Zimbardo's experiment, claimed that the guards behaved the way they behaved due to response bias; out of identification with the aims of the experiment and the desire to please the researchers. If so, is it possible to understand the behavior of the prison guards as an attempt to serve a purpose they believed, and not, as Zimbardo claimed, as a phenomenon that inevitably results from prison conditions? 

Many researchers believe the answer is positive. Indeed, the recordings show that the investigators who prepared the guards for their role encourage them to act in a certain way, not only for scientific progress but also to promote the idea of ​​prison reform. Nevertheless, the academy has not really shunned Zimbardo's research: it has been extensively studied in many courses and is often presented as a valid and important scientific experiment. It may now change.

References:



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Moon’s gamma-ray glow from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Steadily improving view of the Moon’s gamma-ray glow from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Each 5-by-5-degree image is centered on the Moon and shows gamma rays with energies above 31 million electron volts, or tens of millions of times that of visible light. 
At these energies, the Moon is actually brighter than the Sun. Brighter colors indicate greater numbers of gamma rays. This image sequence shows how longer exposure, ranging from two to 128 months (10.7 years), improved the view.
If our eyes could see high-energy radiation called gamma rays, the Moon would appear brighter than the Sun! That’s how NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has seen our neighbor in space for the past decade.

Gamma-ray observations are not sensitive enough to clearly see the shape of the Moon’s disk or any surface features. Instead, Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) detects a prominent glow centered on the Moon’s position in the sky.

Scientists have been analyzing the Moon’s gamma-ray glow as a way…

Two T-38s traveling faster than the speed of sound (shock waves visible)

To get the image, NASA utilized a Super King Air turboprop airplane flying at an indicated airspeed of about 160 miles per hour at 30,000 feet. 

The two supersonic jets, separated by about 30 feet front to back and 10 feet vertically, were listed below the King Air by about 2,000 feet when it shot the images. 
The shock waves were photographable because of the modification in air density. "The density modification triggers a modification in the index of refraction," Banks states. A spoon will look distorted when you see it immersed in a glass of water. 
It turns out that images of shockwaves triggered by flying faster than the speed of sound are amazing to see, even without the sound. 

NASA photographed 2 T-38 airplanes flying at merely faster than the speed of sound over California. The King Air has ports on its stomach that can be opened or closed, and the photography equipment was placed in among those ports so it might shoot downwards. 
The turboprop doing the shooting was st…

A new automated system that is capable of producing organs from stem cells

Organoids: mini organs in a petri dish for disease research and new curesA new automated system developed at the University of Washington is capable of efficiently producing mini organs from stem cells, and thereby has the potential to accelerate biomedical science and research.

Normally, when a researcher wants to test medications or treatments on cells from a particular tissue - for example, a liver - he should first grow the cells in the laboratory in a petri dish. The cells grow on the bottom of the dish and form a thin two-dimensional tissue that does not reflect what happens in the complex three-dimensional tissue that exists in the body. In recent years, researchers have been able to make stem cells develop into three-dimensional structures more like those in the body, called mini-organs. Researchers are able to test different treatments for the mini-organs, and to be more confident that they actually reflect what happens in the living body.

But there is one big problem: produci…

NASA researching how climate change is adding to more regular forest fires

On July 7th, 2019 the skies around Anchorage Alaska were thick with smoke. Across the Cook Inlet, the Swan Lake Fire had spread over nearly 79,000 acres and was still growing. This was just one of over 400 fires that burned in Alaska so far in 2019.

Climate change and forest fires In the Arctic, fires can help rejuvenate ecosystems and make way for new growth. However, Arctic and boreal regions are warming at a faster rate than anywhere else on Earth, and hotter and drier summers are leading to accelerated fire cycles and more intense burns.

Elizabeth Hoy: Fires in boreal forests are different than in other areas of the world, such as those in the western United States. One of the main differences is they have these really thick organic soils layers and these soil layers burn.

And so you’re not just getting fires in the trees or in the canopy, you’re getting fires below the tree itself, like in that soil layer and that is really when you get a lot of these carbon emissions.

Researchi…

A new scientific review of 6,000 genetically modified corn studies in the last 21 years

Genetically modified crops have been criticized by environmental organizations for many years, although many studies have proven their safety. A new scientific review of about 6,000 genetically modified corn studies in the last 21 years shows that not only are genetically modified crops helping the environment, but they are also safer than 'natural' corn crops.

The researchers found that the crop of genetically modified corn was 10 percent higher than the corresponding non-modified corn crop. The concentration of nutrients in the different species was the same, meaning that a farmer who sows genetically modified corn in his fields will receive a healthy and nutritious crop in 10 percent more of the "natural" species. The farmer will not have to expand his fields, invade protected forests or hit the environment to increase the crop - he can simply use genetically modified varieties to achieve the same goal. Thus, the use of genetically engineered corn helps preserve na…

A new study suggests, breastfeeding for 3 months is associated with reduced ovarian cancer risk.

Breastfeeding Benefits and RecommendationsThe World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusivly for up to six months of age and combined with solid foods thereafter. According to WHO, only 38 percent of infants across the world receive breast milk for their first six months of life. The recommendation is designed to save lives and protect against infectious diseases, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, diseases of the respiratory tract (asthma) and metabolic diseases (such as obesity). 

According to the data, more than 20 million babies are born each year at a low weight (under 2.5 kg) and are at higher risk for developmental delay and disease.The advantage of breastfeeding is not only medical. Comparative analysis concluded that breastfeeding reduces infant hospitalizations in childhood, increases intelligence, and increases the fertility and income of the infant in adult life. Therefore, if all infants were to be breastfed for at least a full-year, that alone is…

Researchers developed a way to deal with cancerous tumors that are resistant to immunotherapy

Researchers from the US and Israel found a way to deal with tumors that developed a resistance to immunotherapy
In recent years, the field of cancer treatment with immunotherapy has made headlines. Medications of this type activate the immune system and mobilize it against the cancerous growth, thus helping the body to destroy the malignant cells on its own. But many cancerous tumors manage not only to passively evade the immune system, but also to display proteins on their cell membrane that "cheat" the immune system and make it think the cell is normal.

In order to deal with them, a specific type of immunotherapy called checkpoint inhibitors has been developed, which prevents communication between the tumor and the immune system, thus preventing it from delaying its activity. These medications are not directed directly at the tumor, but rather prevent it from evading the immune system. Their use requires initial mobilization of the immune system in the cancerous environment,…

Findings from an archaeological site in Jordan indicate that dogs lived with humans 11,500 years ago

The transition from hunter-gatherer societies to farmers' societies
The people who lived 11,500 years ago in the area that is today northeast of Jordan apparently did not know this, but they were in the midst of one of the most important changes in human history: the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to farmers' societies. This is the change that led to the development of cities and then kingdoms, and ultimately to all human civilizations. These people already lived in permanent settlements, and began to use more and more plants and animals in their environment. And they had something else: dogs. 

In a new article, researchers from Denmark and the United Kingdom suggest that dog domestication have contributed to the expansion of resources available to people of the period, and that the dogs mainly helped to hunt relatively small prey, such as rabbits.
Those whose remains were found at a site known as Shubayqa 6 lived in basalt stone structures, with a stone floor, which …

NASA picture of the sunrise of the Columbia shuttle a few days before the disaster

Sunrise from Columbia Space Shuttle
Sixteen years after the shuttle disaster, in which seven astronauts, were killed, NASA released a picture of the sunrise from the window of the crew of the shuttle a few days before the disaster.
The US space agency NASA released a picture of the sunrise at the end of the week, as it was taken from the Columbia Space Shuttle on its last space flight, which ended with the deaths of seven astronauts, including the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.
The space shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when the shuttle returned to Earth from a 16-day space trip. The photograph was taken on January 22, 2003. NASA did not say which of the seven crew members photographed the amazing picture of the sunrise from the crew cabin.
A NASA commission of inquiry established after the disaster determined that the cause of the failure was apparently air bubbles created by the insulating foam that covered the external fuel tank and increased its volume. In…