[Cyborg] Stanford Prison Experiment followup

Espen Sivertsen espen at kaospilot.dk
Fri Jul 15 06:11:03 UTC 2011

Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher, psychologists from the University of Exeter and University of St Andrews, conducted a follow up replica called the BBC Prison Study in 2002. http://www.bbcprisonstudy.org/

It's well worth watching: The prisoners basically became the tyrants, breaking out on Day 6. After this, the participants created a 'self-governing commune' but this too collapsed due to internal tensions created by those who had organized the earlier breakout. Then a group of former prisoners and guards conspired to install a new prisoner-guard regime in which they would be the "new guards". Now, however, they wanted to run the system along much harsher lines — akin to those seen in the Stanford study. Signs that this would compromise the well-being of participants led to early termination of the study.

TLDR is that internalized group membership can be a basis for resistance as well as tyranny.


On Jul 14, 2011, at 1:53 PM, Mitch Altman wrote:

> > From: tedks at riseup.net
> > To: cyborg at lists.noisebridge.net
> > Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 10:36:05 -0400
> > Subject: Re: [Cyborg] Stanford Prison Experiment followup
> > 
> > 
> > On Thu, 2011-07-14 at 08:22 -0400, Eric Boyd wrote:
> > > http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2011/julaug/features/spe.html
> > > 
> > > It's amazing how different the different participants stories are 
> > > compared to the standard story.  I think especially telling is the one 
> > > guard who says he planned what came over him - he lead the efforts of 
> > > the guards to break down the prisoners.  It strikes me that without him, 
> > > the entire experiment may have turned out quite differently.  How would 
> > > the world be different if the Stanford Prison Experiment had resulted in 
> > > people playing guitars happily for 2 weeks?
> > > 
> > > Eric
> > I'm sure he took that account from his journal, where he wrote down his
> > plan before participating in the experiment and got it dated and
> notarized.
> > If the Stanford Prison Experiment was people playing guitars happily for
> > two weeks, people would deny that situations have stronger effects on
> > people's behaviors than static personality traits. This is quite
> > different from today, where people deny that situations have stronger
> > effects on people's behaviors than static personality traits, and
> > there's a lot of empirical evidence to back up that claim, like the
> > Milgram studies, the Stanford Prison Experiments, the Robber's Cave
> > experiment, Asch's line study, and every study on correspondence
> > bias/fundamental attribution error, to name a few.
> > </rant>
> There was also a follow up study in Poland, with the same results -- they 
> called off the experiment when things got out of hand.  That there are 
> people who organize others in abusive behavior punctuates the outcome 
> even more:  we all have within us the ability to be abusive -- given the 
> right (or wrong) circumstances.  This is good to know.  We have more 
> choice to respond, rather than react (or to choose to go along with 
> others, or not), when we are more conscious of ourselves.
> Mitch.
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