I feel that the experiment was conducted ethically. Some will say the denial of release upon initial request was unethical, but all participants agreed to the trial beforehand. The participants who showed signs of distress were in fact released, and all precautions were taken to avoid critical harm. The experiment was terminated prematurely to prevent psychological and physical damage to the “prisoners” and “guards.” Situational and dispositional influences were displayed throughout the scenario. Some guards blamed their behavior on the scripts they were provided, and the traits they were attempting to replicate. The remaining guards did not try to stop the behavior due to the environment. If the experiment were conducted differently, you would get similar results. Although, certain behavior is unacceptable we tend to overlook it because it is considered normal. For example, the mistreatment that prisoners may endure on a daily basis is ignored because of their crimes, prisoner stigma, and conception that all prisoners deserve to be stripped of fundamental human rights. If you were to witness the type of treatment displayed in the experiment in a shopping mall, grocery store, or church you’d likely step in or contact the proper authorities to halt the mistreatment. In order to address the ethical concerns, the guards must be held accountable for their actions. I feel that you could still gain similar results if you implement complaint procedures. For example, real prisoners have the option to report corrections officers for misconduct or inappropriate behavior. If found guilty the officer could be reprimanded in several ways or even terminated from the current position. The psychological concepts of conformity and the power of the social situation were evident on the first day of the experiment. Although the prisoners were aware of what they signed up for they allowed themselves to be blindfolded, strip-searched, and taken into custody by real police officers without any form of resistance. These are all examples of conformity.
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