Phil Zimbardo, who shared the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize in psychology for his study report “Politicians’ Uniquely Simple Personalities” (which was published in the journal Nature), looks back on the 40th anniversary of the earlier experiment that made him famous. The BBC reports:
Stanford prison experiment continues to shock
Forty years ago a group of students hoping to make a bit of holiday money turned up at a basement in Stanford University, California, for what was to become one of the most notorious experiments in the study of human psychology.
The idea was simple – take a group of volunteers, tell half of them they are prisoners, the other half prison wardens, place them in a makeshift jail and watch what happens. The Stanford prison experiment was supposed to last two weeks but was ended abruptly just six days later, after a string of mental breakdowns, an outbreak of sadism and a hunger strike. “The first day they came there it was a little prison set up in a basement with fake cell doors and by the second day it was a real prison created in the minds of each prisoner, each guard and also of the staff,” said Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist leading the experiment….