Talk:Stanford prison experiment

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This Psychology related article has been assessed as SIGNIFICANTLY PROBLEMATIC in one or more ways. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

This article requires attention for the following reason(s):

This is a famous experiment that has been documented as a sham and agreed to be methodologically unsound. Our article does not go into that part of the experiment at all, and we need to dispel notions that this experiment can be examples for anything.

I don't know too much about the experiments so I don't feel intellectually comfortable research them and summarising them, but does anyone else feel that our description doesn't really describe the experiments themselves? Having read about them before and knowing the common name, I can infer that some participants were prisoners and others were guards, but apart from that, the article seems a bit lax. άλφαΤαλκ 22:56, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Agree. There's no account of the methodology; any flaws it may have had; or any depth to the conclusions drawn. Unfortunately, I'm unqualified to expand the article. Scherben (talk) 21:39, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
Short version? It's a handful of american college students (9 in each group) and Zimbardo was the guy who ran the prison. It is methodologically unsound to the extreme; this article is therefore thoroughly factually inaccurate; eg, claims that the experiment "showed the power of authority" are nonspecific and misleading.

Additional post in an earlier WIGO:Blogs: The Lifespan of a Lie. We should go into detail about the shame that is this experiment. Disappointing in its current state. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 20:12, 16 August 2018 (UTC)


Zimby was just a narcissistic misanthrope who desperately wanted people to accept his unfounded theory. Don't be gullible. (talk) 09:30, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Room for Expansion[edit]

I saw that an article by Philip Zimbardo was trending on the Clogosphere and looked to see what the wiki had on him. I've read his book 'The Lucifer Effect', some papers and heard a talk or two. So I'm biases and an interest, the Stanford Prison Experiment was unsound. Bullshit isn't inaccurate, but it's more like an apocrypha that just caught on and overshadows all his other work. It comes up in Conspiracy Blogs on how the Government is brainwashing people, while it's not as fraudulent as Milligram's experiment turned out to be. I am wanting it to be longer and more detailed.

There's some inaccuracies;

  • One person did leave the experiment by malingering, and those in the guard roles didn't permit some to leave.
  • The Uncertainty/Certainty Weaseling; Here we have "Though not designed very well" and later "The results of this experiment showed the power" it reads as giving undue weight to the conclusion of the experiment. The article as I see it should run a balance against making him look like the Psych Rockstar Conspiracy Theorists want him to be, and a run-of-the-mill Kook that ended up with legit qualifications and good PR.

And Points to Expand;

  • How the subjects adopted their roles so quickly
  • The abuse of ethics
  • Zimbardo also claimed to have taken a role of Prison Warden
  • Reluctance to terminate the experiment early
  • Media/Pop Response and maybe the opinion of other social psychologists (peer review en all)
  • Later Work

Largely going by memory but my reasoning for each point; In Lucifer Effect he talked about Abu Ghraib and the lack of instructions the Prison Guards were given allowed an informal 'code of conduct' form that give their silent approval to abuse. In the original experiment, Zimbardo took a 'hands-off' approach early in and avoided giving instructions on what the guards were to do; no clear rules, they let their imagination sink in on what their guard role is supposed to be like. I can't remember the Prisoner's being briefed on Fair Treatment (let alone their human rights) and rioted and made barricades out of mattresses. The abuse of ethics I feel should be covered as apart from being unsound, it's the other half of the critique against it. Pro-Human-Testing views or wanting to defend Jozef Mengele's work for it's 'value' pervades the NRx's legion of Armchair Scientists. The experiment is popular, but I think it's for the wrong reason or is used to argue for worse bullshit. His later work is him trying to reformulate how to go about the experiment but without the abuse of ethics that ensued, such as the Hero Initiative and how to avoid that whole 'banality of evil' of being an asshole because you think that's your job. He also did work on Italians with the Perception of Time, completely irrelevant but I want to point out he still does other work. (talk) 22:17, 30 May 2015 (UTC)