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Stanford Prison Experiment
Summary and Critique of The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment of 1973 raises troubling questions about the ability of individuals to exist repressive or obedient roles, if the social setting requires these roles. Philip K. Zimbardo, professor of Psychology at Stanford University, began researching how prisoners and guards assume submissive and authoritarian roles. He set out to do this by placing advertisements in a local newspaper, stating that male college students would be needed for a study of prison life paying fifteen dollars per day for one to two days. Of the seventy-five responses, twenty-one were selected, half of them as “guards” (Zimbardo p. 364) and the other half as “prisoners.” (Zimbardo p. 364) Philip Zimbardo’s primary goal in this experiment was to find out the process when prisoners and guards become controlling and passive. He did this by setting up a mock prison in which all of the prisoners were assigned the same uniforms and cells, and used numbers instead of names. The guards were assigned uniforms and offices, somewhat similar to the prisoners except they were equipped with billy clubs, whistles, handcuffs, and keys, and had freedom. These conditions allowed a setting similar to prisons; this also allowed everyone to be stripped of identifying characteristics, therefore “equal.” One of Philip Zimbardo’s claims was the “process” of becoming a prisoner. In this process, all of the applicants were arrested, read their rights, and charged with a felony. After they were taken down to the station to be fingerprinted, each prisoner was left isolated to wonder what he did. After a while, he was blindfolded and transported to the “Stanford County Prison.” Here, he was stripped naked, skin-searched, deloused and given a uniform, bedding, soup, and a towel. In this “mock prison” (Zimbardo p. 365) “prisoners” lost their liberty, civil rights, independence and privacy, while “guards” gain social power by accepting the responsibility for controlling the lives of their dependent charges. In the mock prison, inverse psychological relationships developed between prisoners and guards. Prisoners began to feel that there was no way to beat the system. They felt that it is better to do nothing, except what the guards told them. They didn’t want, act, or feel anything so they wouldn’t get in trouble. Guards, on the other hand, assumed authority roles to control the prisoners and keep the prison in order. Some of the guards reacted extremely, and behaved with hostility and cruelty towards the prisoners. Others, however, were kinder, and occasionally did favors for the prisoners and didn’t punish them as much. On the morning of the second day of the experiment, the prisoners broke out in a rebellion. They barricaded themselves in their cells by pushing their cots up against the cell doors; they also proceeded to curse and jeer at the prison guards. The guards regained control of the prison by spraying fire extinguishers on the prisoners and stripping them of their clothing. The guards also forced the leaders of the riot into solitary confinement. Following the riot, the prisoners were more compliant to the rules the guards laid out for them. There was never another united uprising by the prisoners against their authority figures, the guards. After the prisoners had accepted and fully assumed their roles, they suffered a loss of identity. This led the prisoners to not relate with one another on a personal level; it caused them to try and survive in their environment and concentrate on their personal well being. Eventually the prisoners became like sheep trying to survive and stay out of trouble. They lost the need to relate to others and have social relationships. With this loss of normal relationships entailing personal connections and social connections they lost respect for one another. There are some reasons that people voluntarily become prisoners. “Some people choose to remain prisoners so that we do not have to be responsible for our actions.” (Zimbardo p.375) I agree with this statement, because it somewhat relates to the workforce in America. Some people get paid in commission, or how much work they accomplish, and others get paid by the hour. In some cases, the people that get paid by the hour wish to ... more
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A Timeline of the Holocaust
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and their collaborators as a central act of state during World War II. In 1933
approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed.
Although Jews were the primary victims, hundreds of thousands of Roma (Gypsies) and at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons were also victims of Nazi genocide.
As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe from 1933 to 1945, millions of other innocent people were persecuted and murdered. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war were
killed because of their nationality. Poles, as well as other Slavs, were targeted for slave labor, and as a result, almost two million perished. Homosexuals and others deemed
"anti-social" were also persecuted and often murdered. In addition, thousands of political and religious dissidents such as communists, socialists, trade unionists, and Jehovah's
Witnesses were persecuted for their beliefs and behavior and many of these individuals died as a result of maltreatment.
The concentration camp is most closely associated with the Holocaust and remains an enduring symbol of the Nazi regime. The first camps opened soon after the Nazis took power
in January 1933; they continued as a basic part of Nazi rule until May 8, 1945, when the war, and the Nazi regime, ended.
The events of the Holocaust occurred in two main phases: 1933-1939 and 1939-1945.
On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor, the most powerful position in the German government, by the aged President Hindenburg who hoped Hitler could lead the
nation out of its grave political and economic crisis. Hitler was the leader of the right-wing National Socialist German Workers Party (called the Nazi Party for short); it was, by 1933,
one of the strongest parties in Germany, even though * reflecting the country's multi-party system * the Nazis had only won a plurality of 33 percent of the votes in the 1932 elections to
the German parliament (Reichstag).
Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the Constitution which permitted the suspension of
individual freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces * the Special State Police (the Gestapo), the Storm Troopers (S.A.), and the Security Police (S.S.) *
murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (communists, socialists, and liberals). The Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, forced through a Reichstag already purged of
many political opponents, gave dictatorial powers to Hitler.
Also in 1933, the Nazis began to put into practice their racial ideology. Echoing ideas popular in Germany as well as most other western nations well before the 1930s, the Nazis
believed that the Germans were "racially superior" and that there was a struggle for survival between them and "inferior races." They saw Jews, Roma (Gypsies), and the
handicapped as a serious biological threat to the purity of the "German (Aryan) Race,"[footnote #1] what they called the "master race."
Jews, who numbered around 500,000 in Germany (less than one percent of the total population in 1933), were the principal target of Nazi hatred. The Nazis mistakenly identified
Jews as a race and defined this race as "inferior." They also spewed hatemongering propaganda which unfairly blamed Jews for Germany's economic depression and the country's
defeat in World War I (1914-1918).
In 1933, new German laws forced Jews to quit their civil service jobs, university and law court positions, and other areas of public life. In April 1933, a boycott of Jewish businesses
was instituted. In 1935, laws proclaimed at Nuremberg stripped German Jews of their citizenship even though they retained limited rights. These "Nuremberg Laws" defined Jews
not by their religion or by how they wanted to identify themselves but by the blood of their grandparents. Between 1937 and 1939, new anti-Jewish regulations segregated Jews
further and made daily life very difficult for them: Jews could not attend public schools, go to theaters, cinemas, or vacation resorts, or reside, or even walk, in certain sections of
German cities. ... more
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