The Behavior of Prisoners in the Stanford Experiment

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Category: Cognition
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After reading this article, I gained new information about corrections and their development. It was fascinating to learn how psychology and corrections work together, how they affect the human mind and body, and their impact on guards and prisoners. Watching videos and reading about the experiment showed that imprisonment can lead to distinct behaviors and psychological breakdowns.

The experiment conducted at Stanford University posed an intriguing question: would placing someone accustomed to a normal lifestyle in prison produce different results? An individual is not used to being confined in a cell for prolonged periods, and this could result in numerous psychological issues. For instance, during the experiment, a student experienced identical outcomes to an inmate in another prison (Zoukis, 2017). This emphasized that isolated confinement can have severe psychological and physical damage. Additionally, the transformation of a person’s attitude towards inmates when dressed in uniform was noted (Zoukis, 2017). I learned a lot about the effects of environment on human behavior.

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A significant takeaway from this experiment is how authority can change people. The guards in the experiment, once given authority, began to abuse the inmates after only a few hours (McLeod, 2018). This reveals that people with authority may likely abuse it while executing their duties.

Interestingly, I discovered that the inmates outlasted the guards. The guards awakened the inmates at 2:30 a.m. (McLeod, 2018). This observation demonstrates that disrupting someone’s sleep pattern can cause harm, mainly because they are typically asleep during that time and are not entirely conscious of their actions.

Another intriguing finding from the experiment was that the students started acting like real inmates (McLeod, 2018). This insight led me to understand that individuals are significantly influenced by their surroundings.

The physical punishment also indicates that prison life is far from easy. The participants’ physical punishment included performing push-ups (McLeod, 2018). Upon examining real-life prisons, physical damage endured by inmates often leads to further complications in the future.

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Overall, the experiment revealed many insights about the environment in prisons that we generally overlook. As a society, we often fail to acknowledge the psychological damage suffered by individuals post-incarceration that ultimately affects their overall well-being.

In conclusion, this was an illuminating experiment that increased our collective understanding of the psychological effects of incarceration. Personally, it was an enlightening experience that taught me many things I was unaware of.

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The Behavior of Prisoners in the Stanford Experiment. (2023, Mar 09). Retrieved from