This website describes a psychological experiment which reveals the effects of social institutions. While a prison was the model in the experiment, one can see how other social institutions such as schools could have similar phenomena occur. I think this is especially interesting for us to think of in terms of social anxiety. I encourage you to read through the end to fully appreciate the psychological changes that took place in the volunteers and researchers.
Post by wonkothesane on Sept 2, 2005 9:41:35 GMT -5
Yeah I've seen footage taken of that and some friend who studied physcology used that as a standard case study, it's really scary- it's alway so easy to say you'd never do it- but in reality do you think you are strong enough to say no- would you have been in the resistance in france in ww2 or would you have openly objected to the nazis- or would you just toe the line and take the easy way out? These questions can never be answered until your faced by that kind of situation- I know I've failed a few times in situations and should have handeled them differently- you can only try to do better next time- In a situation that extreme I would hope if I acted like that I would have the decency to kill myself rather than try to justify it.
Post by wonkothesane on Sept 2, 2005 9:52:17 GMT -5
Just thinking aswell- what does it say about somebody who would voluteer for this in the first place- research or not I could never play an authoritive role in an institution and in general I try to avoid them as much as possible.
As the sign above the shrine of the Oracle of Delphi said- Know Thyself- But then ask yourself do I really.
Post by GreenFerret on Sept 4, 2005 0:23:27 GMT -5
Just thinking aswell- what does it say about somebody who would voluteer for this in the first place...[?]
Yeah, that's one of those factors that kind of makes the study seem skewed, among other things. The wearing of dresses and ankle shackles also seemed out of place, and the explanation was that the dresses were to simulate emasculization and the chains, oppression. But I thought the point of the study was to see what effect actually being imprisoned had on the people... So trying to induce certain emotional states artificially kinda sounds like cheating. lol. Also the fact that reserve prisoners did not endure the same conditions as the 9 in the main study cells before they were needed.
Or what about the fact that not only were no limits placed upon the guards, but the prisoners had no way to complain about abuse--not so much as filling out a form. This sort of thing might provide enough hope just so things didn't seem hopeless.
Another thing the researchers mentioned themselves: that the conductor of the study was also the warden. He talks about how exciting it is that he became so immersed in his role that he quit thinking like a researcher, but that doesn't seem like a good thing in terms of getting very sound results.
Beyond that, it's a really interesting setup, especially the way the prisoners reacted, and the fact that the guards went so far as to create "pornographic" tortures/punishments. Then again, some of this shouldn't be so shocking, when you consider it. I think a lot of bullies are "normal" people outside of the specific situations in which they're able to bully. They are bullies because they exploit opportunities to cause hurt, yes? The thoughtless, too, may seem outwardly normal, but in the right situations could use power in appalling ways, because it is easy and presumably without consequences, and because it's not them suffering from it--it's someone else, and besides. It's kind of exhilerating, and funny. Of course, can't forget, either, that old saying about absolute power...
Human nature really can be scary.
"Anyone who wants to know the human psyche... would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throughout the world." -Carl Jung
The volunteers were students who answered an ad in the paper offering to pay participants in a study. They were randomly assigned to the 'guard' or 'prisoner' group. They all tested psychologically normal before the study. The rapid disintegration of the civilized veneer described in the study took place in only 6 days at which time the study had to be ended prematurely. Even the researchers themselves acknowledged change in themselves and their reactions during the study. It was a powerful experiment which shows what's lurking under the surface of 'civilized' human beings. It's interesting to read about some of the things going on in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina now after reading this study. Some of the participants were really freaked out to discover they were capable of things they would never have suspected they were capable of. This study demonstrated the potent influence of our social situation on our 'personality' and behavior. I think it's something that we don't like to acknowledge, especially in Western society where the cult of the individual runs strong. But I think we must acknowledge it in order to prevent the damage we can do inadvertently if we don't.