The Power of the Situation

Dec 14, 2023 | Videos

In 1971, four eminent social psychologists, Craig Haney, Curt Banks, Carlo Prescott, and Philip Zimbardo, took on a revolutionary experiment at Stanford University. The purpose of this study was to test the validity of the fundamental attribution error – our tendency to attribute behavior to individual character rather than environmental influences.

The experiment was groundbreaking in its implications for understanding how situational forces can shape human behavior. It involved taking a group of student volunteers who were randomly divided into two distinct roles—prisoners and prison guards. The students were put into a simulated jail-like environment and observed over several days as their roles dictated how they would interact with each other. The results demonstrated that even in such a brief time period, powerful social dynamics could emerge from within the group.

The study inspired the award-winning film ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ which depicts the events that took place during the original study in brilliant detail. From studying prisoners’ reactions to guard brutality to exploring how well-meaning people turn into oppressive forces when given power over others; this documentary accurately portrays what occurred during this landmark situation study at Stanford University in 1971.

If you are curious about how environmental factors can profoundly affect our behavior and attitudes then you should watch ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’. This captivating film is sure to challenge your assumptions surrounding human nature and leave you questioning whether our actions are truly determined by us alone or by external forces that we may not be aware of.

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David B