What was the purpose of Zimbardo’s experiment?

  

Read Zimbardos Experiment: The Individual and the Social Role, located on page 48 of the textbook. Discuss one (1) alternative approach to the one used in the Zimbardo experiment to investigate how role expectations shape behavior. Provide a rationale for your response.Please respond in 2 paragraphs and at least 7 complete sentences all together.

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ZIMBARDO’S EXPERIMENT: THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE SOCIAL ROLE
3
ZE
Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo
(1974; Haney, Banks, & Zimbardo,
1973) wanted to investigate how role
expectations shape behavior. He was
intrigued by the possibility that the
frequently observed cruelty of prison
guards was a consequence of the
institutional setting and role, not the
guards’ personalities.
In an experiment that has since
become well known, Zimbardo
converted the basement of a Stanford
University building into a makeshift
prison. A newspaper ad seeking young
men to take part in the experiment for
pay drew 70 subject candidates, who
were given a battery of physical and
psychological tests to assess their
emotional stability and maturity. The
most mature 24 were selected for the
experiment and randomly assigned
to roles as “guards” or “prisoners.’
Those assigned to be prisoners were
“arrested,” handcuffed, and taken
to the makeshift prison by the Palo
Alto police. The behavior of the
guards and the prisoners was filmed.
Within a week, the prison setting
took on many of the characteristics
of actual prisons. The guards were
often aggressive and seemed to
take pleasure in being cruel. The
prisoners began planning escapes
and expressed hostility and bitterness
toward the guards
The subjects in the experiment
so identified with their respective
roles that many of them displayed
Despite questions about the ethics of Philip Zimbardo’s experiment, sociologists still study
his work. Is it wrong to use research data gathered by means we now consider unethical?
Do the results of research ever justify subjecting human beings to physical or psychological
discomfort, invasion of privacy, or deception?
shows how profoundly private
lives are shaped by the behavioral
expectations of the roles we occupy
in social institutions.
signs of depression and anxiety.
As a result, some were released
early, and the experiment was
canceled before the first week was
over. Since the participants had all
been screened for psychological
and physical problems, Zimbardo
concluded that the results could not
be attributed to their personalities.
Instead, the prison setting itself (the
independent variable) appeared to
be at the root of the guards’ brutal
behavior and the prisoners’ hostility
and rebelliousness (the dependent
variable). Zimbardo’s research
THINK IT THROUGH
Zimbardo’s experiment could
not be repeated today, as it would
violate guidelines for ethical research
with human subjects. How might
a researcher design an ethical
experiment to test the question of the
circumstances under which apparently
“normal” individuals will engage in
violent or cruel acts?
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12:01 PM
7/7/2016

Introduction:

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Zimbardo’s famous experiment on the Individual and Social Role aimed to understand the behavior of prison guards and whether their notorious cruelty was due to their personalities or environmental factors. The experiment involved selecting young men to take on the roles of either guards or prisoners in a makeshift prison setup. Despite the subjects undergoing psychological and physical testing, within a week, the guards’ aggressive behavior and the prisoners’ rebelliousness and hostility arose, leading to the experiment’s early cancellation. This experiment continues to raise ethical concerns. due to the various ways the subjects’ privacy and dignity were invaded.

Description:

Despite the essence of Zimbardo’s experiment in revealing the impact of social roles on behavior, it was and is still considered unethical to some extent due to the subjects’ psychological and physical discomfort and the privacy invasion they faced. This has led researchers to consider alternative approaches to investigating how role expectations shape behavior. An ethical approach to studying normal people’s tendency towards violent or cruel acts would require inclusive consent and sensitive research procedures. For instance, a researcher could conduct a field study or survey that explores real-life situations similar to those in prisons. This would help in observing individuals’ behaviors while at the same time safeguarding their rights to privacy and dignity.

Objectives:

1. To understand the impact of role expectations on behavior.
2. To analyze the ethical concerns associated with conducting research on human subjects.
3. To identify an alternative approach to investigate the impact of role expectations on behavior.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Students will be able to explain the results of Zimbardo’s experiment and how it supports the idea that role expectations shape behavior.
2. Students will be able to evaluate the ethical concerns associated with conducting research on human subjects.
3. Students will be able to propose an alternative approach to investigate the impact of role expectations on behavior, and provide a rationale for their approach that takes into consideration ethical guidelines.

Alternative approach to investigate how role expectations shape behavior:

One alternative approach to investigate the impact of role expectations on behavior is to conduct a naturalistic observation study. This approach involves observing individuals in their natural setting, without interfering with their behavior or manipulating any variables. Researchers could observe individuals in different social roles, such as a teacher, a parent, or a police officer, and document their behavior. By comparing the behaviors of individuals in different roles, researchers can gain insight into the impact of role expectations on behavior.

This approach aligns with ethical guidelines because it does not involve any deception, invasion of privacy, or physical or psychological discomfort for the participants. Additionally, researchers would not need to randomly assign participants to roles, which eliminates concerns about fairness and potential harm. However, there are limitations to this approach, such as the inability to control for other variables that may be influencing behavior, like cultural norms and individual differences.

Solution 1: One alternative approach to the one used in the Zimbardo experiment to investigate how role expectations shape behavior could be conducting a naturalistic observation. Naturalistic observation is a research method where researchers observe individuals in their natural settings without manipulating the variables. For example, researchers could observe the behavior of prison guards in actual prisons, looking at how their behavior is influenced by various factors, including institutional setting and personal traits. By conducting a naturalistic observation, researchers could avoid manipulating variables and still gain insights into how role expectations shape behavior.

One rationale for this approach is that it would address some of the ethical concerns raised by the Zimbardo experiment. The Zimbardo experiment involved manipulation of variables, including the roles assigned to participants. This raised ethical concerns about the welfare of the participants, as they were subjected to psychological discomfort. By conducting a naturalistic observation, researchers would avoid such ethical concerns and still gain insights into the research question. Additionally, conducting a naturalistic observation would allow researchers to study behavior in the actual setting of interest, providing greater external validity to the research findings.

Solution 2: Another alternative approach to the one used in the Zimbardo experiment to investigate how role expectations shape behavior could be conducting a longitudinal study. A longitudinal study is a research method where researchers follow participants over time, observing and measuring changes in their behavior. For example, researchers could select a group of individuals, assign them to different roles similar to the Zimbardo experiment, and follow them over a longer period, collecting data on changes in their behavior. This approach would allow researchers to determine how behavior changes over time in response to role expectations and whether these changes persist even after participants leave the role.

One rationale for this approach is that it would provide insights into the durability of changes in behavior. The Zimbardo experiment was conducted over a short period, and the researchers had to stop the experiment due to concerns about the welfare of participants. By conducting a longitudinal study, researchers would be able to study changes in behavior over a longer period, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of role expectations on behavior. Additionally, this approach would allow researchers to study the impact of other factors, such as personal traits and environmental factors, on behavior changes.

Suggested Resources/Books:
– Social Psychology by David Myers: This textbook covers a variety of social psychological topics, including role expectations and identity, which are relevant to the Zimbardo experiment.
– Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions: Standards and Cases by Gerald P. Koocher and Patricia Keith-Spiegel: This book provides a framework for ethical decision making in research, including the ethics of using data gathered through potentially unethical means.

Similar Asked Questions:
1. What are the ethical considerations when conducting research with human subjects?
2. How can role expectations shape behavior in group settings?
3. What are the long-term effects of participating in psychological experiments?
4. What alternative methods could be used to investigate the effects of social roles on behavior?
5. How can we balance the need for ethical research with the desire for scientifically rigorous results?

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