Zimbardo set up a mock prison in the basement of the psychology deparment at the Stanford University (Haney et al 1973). They advertised for students willing to volunteer and selected those who were 'emotionally stable' after extensive psychological testing. The students were randomly assigned the roles of guards or prisoners. To make the study more realistic the 'prisoners' were arrested in their homes by local police and were then delivered to the 'prison'. They were blindfolded, *****-searched, deloused and issued a uniform and number. The social roles of the prisoners and the guards were strictly divided. The prisoner's daily routines were heavily regulated. There were 16 roles they had to follow, which were enforced by the guards who worked in shifts, 3 at a time. The prisoners' were only referred to by the numbers and never their names. The guards to underline their role, had their own uniform complete with wooden clubs and handcuffs, keys and mirror shades. They were told they had complete control over the prisoners', deciding when they were allowed to go to the toilet.


The guards took up their role with enthusiasm and their behaviour became a threat to the prisoners' psychological and physical health so the study was stopped after 6 days instead of the intended 14 days. Within 2 days the prisoners' rebelled against their harsh treatment by the guards. They ripped their uniforms, shouted and swore at the guards, who retaliated back with fire extinguishers. The guards emplpoyed 'divide-and-rule' tactics by playing the prisoners' off against each other. They harassed the prisoners' constantly to remind them that they were being monitored the whole time. They conducted frequent head counts, sometimes even in the middle of the night. After their rebellion was put down, the prisoners' became subdued, depressed and anxious. One prisoner was released on the first day due to signs of psychological disturbance. Two more were released on the fourth day and one prisoner went on hunger strike; the guards attempted to force feed him and then punished him by putting him in 'the hole' which was a tiny dark closet. He was shunned by the other prisoners' instead of being seen as a hero. The guards identified more and more closely with their role and their behaviour became more brutal and


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