Welcome to the Stanford Prison Experiment web site, which features an extensive slide show and information about this classic psychology experiment, including parallels with the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University. How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you.
Philip Zimbardo: Why ordinary people do evil ... or do good
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Our Dark Hearts: The Stanford Prison Experiment The experiment that inspired a novel, two films, countless TV programs, re-enactments and even a band. “The vilest deeds like poison weeds bloom well in prison air” – Oscar Wilde. The best psychological experiments ask timeless questions about human nature, like what makes a person evil?
When Situations Not Personality Dictate Our Behaviour A modern test of an ancient bible story demonstrates the power of situations to trump personality in determining behaviour. A fundamental mistake we often make when judging other people is assuming that their behaviour mainly reflects their personality. Unfortunately this ignores another major influence on how people behave staring us right in the face: the situation. Our personalities certainly have an influence on what situations we get into and how we deal with them, but situational factors — even relatively subtle ones — can completely obliterate the effects of personality.