Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week 2: Zimbardo's Prison Experiment. Ethical?

I believe the Stanford Prison Experiment was ethically sound at the time it was called off. However, if the experiment hadn’t been stopped I believe it could have become unethical and people could have been hurt mentally and physically. Although the students involved were allowed to still attend classes, and Dr. Zimbardo admitted the majority of the kids were in it for the money, I don’t believe they thought it would get so real.

If the experiment had gone on for the full period of time I think that the guards treatment of the prisoners would have gotten much worse. That kind of behavior, as Dr. Zimbardo admitted in the video, is typical when someone in a position of power has nothing to do with his/her spare time. As stated in the second video, this is much like what happened at the Abu Ghraib prison. However, there were other circumstances that led to those events happening. Those men and women who were abusing the terrorists have been through a lot being away from home fighting a war and they decided to take their frustrations out on the prisoners. While I don’t agree with what they did, I do understand why they did what they did and feel they were punished appropriately.

In conclusion, the Stanford Experiments were ethical in that they posed a question which was answered, much faster than they had expected. The researchers saw the potential for harm to the students, both mentally and physically, and had they not stopped the experiment, I believe something like Abu Ghraib may have happened, but nowhere near as bad as what happened in that prison.

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