“Situational variables can exert powerful influences over human
behavior – More so than we recognize or acknowledge”
~ Philip Zimbardo
– Origins of experiment
– How the experiment unfolded
– What led to the abrupt ending
– 7o volunteers
– Waiver signed
– Professor Zimbardo assigned
himself the role of
- Arrested by Palo Alto Police Department
- Stripped, searched, and given nightgowns
- Many “counts” and pushups
Other than the guards disturbing the prisoners
throughout the night it was relatively uneventful
On the second morning the prisoners retaliated
Solidarity formed between the guards
Prisoners began to distrust each other
“There was zero time for refleciton. We had to
feed the prisoners three meals a day,
deal with the prisoner breakdowns...
By the third day I was sleeping in my office.
I had become the superintendent of Stanford
~ Zimbardo, Stanford Magazine
Meanwhile, the abuse of the guards was continuing to escalate in
the form of taking away toilet privileges, blindfolding, stripping,
and physical activity.
An actual priest came to talk to the prisoners. By this point
the prisoners had lost their real identities and introduced
themselves as their prison number.
Prisoner 819 wanted a doctor instead of a priest. When they
finally got him to come out and talk her broke down.
“819 is a bad prisoner”
'If you were to be paroled, would you be willing
to give back all of the money you have earned so
Most said yes
Zimbardo ended the experiment on the
The newspaper ad began the whole
The five days of the study was filled with abuse,
loss of identity, and emotional breakdowns
Finally, the study ended on the sixth day after Zimbardo's
girlfriend saw the cruelty.
Is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it
when pressured by situational forces”