The Stanford Prison Experiment: A psychological experiment about the exploration of human behavior under imprisonment

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Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject Sociology - Methodology and Methods, grade: 1,2, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, language: English, abstract: In the 1970s and '80s, the behavioral researcher and psychologist Prof. Philip Zimbardo tested the effects of extraordinary situations on human subjects. Zimbardo was less concerned with demonstrating the personal situations, developments and psychological case studies of individuals, and rather was searching for universal relationships between external influences and the behavior of the subject. Such influences are to be observed in situations of extreme duress, as illustrated by those in prisons. After World War II there were a multitude of reports from prisoners about their personal experiences, the influences and effects of their respective time in prison. Zimbardo now wanted to observe the effects of prison on a universal level. He thus clearly separated the personal psyche of the individual from the factors that would encroach from the "outside", making them equal to prisoners. The core question Zimbardo was experimenting with was the question of the "good" and "evil" in humans. Would good or evil triumph in individuals who were subjected to extreme stress and were required to resort to violence? What influence does the environment have on this decision? Who is actually responsible for reporting extraordinary violence in prisons? Is it the special characters and individuals gathered within the prison, or must this phenomenon be ascribed to the imposed prison environment?
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GRIN Verlag
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Mar 12, 2014
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Social Science / Methodology
Social Science / Research
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Studienarbeit aus dem Jahr 2004 im Fachbereich Soziologie - Methodologie und Methoden, Note: 1,2, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen (Medizinische Soziologie), Sprache: Deutsch, Abstract: Der Verhaltensforscher und Psychologe Professor Philip Zimbardo untersuchte in den 70er und 80er Jahren die Auswirkungen außergewöhnlicher Situationen auf den Menschen. Zimbardo lag dabei weniger daran, die persönlichen Situationen, Entwicklungen und die psychologischen Fallstudien einzelner darzulegen, er war vielmehr auf der Suche nach allgemeingültigen Zusammenhängen zwischen äußeren Einflüssen und dem Verhalten der Betroffenen. Solche Einflüsse lassen sich in Situationen extremer Belastung, wie diese beispielsweise in Gefängnissen auftreten, beobachten. Nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg gab es eine Vielzahl von Berichten Gefangener über das persönliche Erleben, die Eindrücke und Auswirkungen ihrer jeweiligen Gefängnissituationen. Zimbardo wollte nun die Auswirkungen der Gefängnissituation auf allgemeingültiger Ebene untersuchen. Er trennte damit deutlich die persönliche Psyche des einzelnen von den Faktoren, die von „außen“ an ihn herangetragen werden und auf alle Gefangenen gleichermaßen wirken. Die Zentrale Frage, die Zimbardo untersuchte, war die Frage nach dem „Guten“ und dem „Bösen“ im Menschen. Würde in Menschen, die extremem Druck ausgesetzt und zur Anwendung von Gewalt aufgefordert würden, das Gute oder das Böse siegen? Welchen Einfluss hat die Umwelt auf diese Entscheidung? Wer ist tatsächlich dafür verantwortlich, dass von außergewöhnlicher Gewalt in Gefängnissen berichtet wird? Für Zimbardo war die Durchführung eines Experimentes erforderlich, das unter nahezu realistischen Bedingungen die Ausnahmesituation eines Gefängnisses nachstellte. Das Gefängnis, ein Ort, der gekennzeichnet ist von künstlichen Machtstrukturen und unnatürlichen Autoritäten, schien dem Wissenschaftler eine geeignete Umgebung für die Untersuchung der Frage nach dem Einfluss äußerer Faktoren auf das Machtverhalten und die Gewaltbereitschaft des Menschen zu sein.
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