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The Stanford Prison Experiment, SPE

Phillip Zimbardo, Professor, Stanford University--Social Psychologist:
Extended Adorno’s and Milgram’s work

  • Zimbardo’s SPE experiment predicted later events:
    • Abu Ghraib and similar detention centers
    • The several modern genocides
  • The SPE became a “SYSTEM,” a miniature system that foretold Abu Ghraib—all too realistically!

Are we really that violent? It seems so!

The link below illustrates well the corrupting power of the SYSTEM. As a simulation of actual prison systems in place today in America the experimenters hardly expected that it would have such devastating and far-reaching implications. American entertainment usually has a happy ending. This experiment was the opposite; Zimbardo himself had become part of the system he created. It was Greek tragedy. In the end, however, it turned out to be a lynch-pin for what ails humanity. If Adorno, Milgram, Altemeyer and Stout are not convincing enough, Zimbardo surely is. We are not just violent as individuals, we are collectively violent as groups. Abu Ghraib and the Rwandan genocide are modern cases in point. Zimbardo's work is as precise and valid as social science can get.

Link to: Stanford Prison Experiment

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