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Do You Think Zimbardo Prison Study "Quiet Rage" Was Ethiical?

In: Social Issues

Submitted By doctorsean
Words 676
Pages 3
Ethics is a broad subject that encompasses all different sets of moral guidelines. In terms of Sociology, ethics can be defined as mode that implores us to act in a way to benefit society. In the 1971 documentary, “Quiet Rage”, psychologist Philip Zimbardo conducted a prison experiment at Stanford University aiming to gain knowledge in regards to the development of norms, roles, labels, and social expectations in a prison environment. Throughout this experiment Zimbardo lost control of the situation as the participants lost their own identities and became greatly involved with the roles that they were expected to act upon. As a result Zimbardo had to terminate the experiment before the study was completed due to unethical issues. The experiment was unethical, but it was a necessity in order to have acquired this beneficial knowledge that we possess today even though the trade off was inappropriate for the participants.
Numerous reasons exist to why the experiment has violated the ethical standards. For example, the students who had played the role of prisoners were treated unethically by forcing them to clean the toilet with their bare hands, and were placed in total confinement of spaces that were only standing room for more than 24hrs. But why would the prisoners blindly follow the guards? According to Giddens, the size of a group affects the “quality of interaction and the capability of the group in accomplishing certain tasks” (Giddens 132). The more the prisoners the more likely they would conform to the guards even though the orders were harsh and unethical. One study that supports the theory of conformity was the experiment Asch Task, where participants were shown one standard line and three comparison lines with different sizes. They were given the task to simply say which of the lines matched the standard line. When the confederates gave a false...

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