24 male students were randomly assigned to be prisoner or guard. The prisoners were 'arrested' at home, and taken to the 'prison'. Each prisoner was strip-searched and had to wear a uniform which barely covered the body. They also had to wear a stocking cap and an ankle chain, they could only refer to each other by prison number.
BY DAY 3
I can't stay here any longer I feel uncomfortable.Please let me leave.
z z z
We will not let you leave, we make the rules.
The guards were allowed to make up rules, which could be anything they choose, as long as they didn't physically abuse the prisoners.
DAYS 5 AND 6
You must clean the toilet with your bare hands.
Guards made prisoners do 'counts' and press-ups as punishment. After the prisoners had barricaded themselves in their cells, guards forced in and strip searched them. Ring-leaders were put into solitary confinement.
We adopted the roll of prison guards as we conformed to our social roll.
We adopted the roll of prisoners and conformed to our social roll.
By day 3 the guards had become much more brutal, not letting prisoners leave their cells. Prisoners were becoming anxious, but one who showed extreme signs of anxiety was not allowed to leave until day 4.
On day 5 the guards made prisons clean toilets with their bare hands, and at night continued to strip search the prisoners. By day 6 the guards power was almost total, and prisoners obeyed without question.
Zimbardo decided to stop the experiment 6 days in, after he saw the effects on the prisoners. The results proved that both prisoners and guards adopted their roles, and each conformed to their social roll.