GROUP DYNAMICS: PEER PRESSURE, EMPATHY, ETC.
COMPASSION VS. SADISM*: WHICH IS MORE CHARACTERISTIC OF “HUMAN,” “ANIMAL”?
CONTRAST THE STANFORD AND YALE EXPERIMENTS WITH THE ONE ON THE PETA POSTER ABOUT THE MONKEYS WHO SACRIFICED THEMSELVES RATHER THAN HURT ANOTHER MONKEY
TEXT: “In 1964, macaque monkeys used in an experiment were fed only if they agreed to pull a chain that would send a painful shock to another monkey – in plain view through a one-way mirror. After seeing the repercussions of their actions, 87 percent preferred to go hungry rather than harm their fellow monkeys. One refused to eat for 14 days.”**
Enthusiasm for inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others; spec. a psychological disorder characterized by sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviour involving the subjection of another person to pain, humiliation, bondage, etc.
………….” 1943 H. READ Politics of Unpolitical ii. 18 Sadism is the unconscious impulse to acquire unrestricted power over another person, and to test the fullness of this power by destroying that other person……….. 1974 I. BIEBER in S. Arieti Amer. Handbk. Psychiatry III. xv. 318/2 In my view sadism is a maladaptive response to threat; it is a paranoid constellation in which the victim is a personified representative of a variety of irrationally perceived threats.”
Yale Millgram experiment, 1961.
Three people take part in the experiment: "experimenter"; "learner" ("victim"); and "teacher" (participant). Only the "teacher" is an actual participant, i.e., unaware about the actual setup, while the "learner" is a confederate of the experimenter……………the "teacher" and "learner" were separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of the experiment, the confederate was sure to mention to the participant that he had a heart condition.
The "teacher" was given an electric shock from the electro-shock generator as a sample of the shock that the "learner" would supposedly receive during the experiment. The "teacher" was then given a list of word pairs which he was to teach the learner. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the learner. The teacher would then read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong answer. If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair.….. After a number of voltage level increases, the actor started to bang on the wall that separated him from the subject. After several times banging on the wall and complaining about his heart condition, all responses by the learner would cease.
At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner. If at any time the subject indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, … If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in succession.…………. In Milgram's first set of experiments, 65 percent (26 of 40) of experiment participants administered the experiment's final massive 450-volt shock, . . . Only one participant steadfastly refused to administer shocks below the 300-volt level.…………. Dr. Thomas Blass of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County performed a meta-analysis on the results of repeated performances of the experiment. He found that the percentage of participants who are prepared to inflict fatal voltages remains remarkably constant, 61–66 percent, regardless of time or place.**
The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70 to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Those selected were chosen for their lack of psychological issues, crime history, and medical disabilities, in order to obtain a representative sample. Roles were assigned based on a coin toss.
They adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early. After being confronted by Christina Maslach, a graduate student in psychology whom he was dating, and realizing that he had been passively allowing unethical acts to be performed under his direct supervision, Zimbardo concluded that both prisoners and guards had become too grossly absorbed in their roles and terminated the experiment after six days.
Ethical concerns surrounding the famous experiment often draw comparisons to the Milgram experiment, which was conducted in 1961 at Yale University by Stanley Milgram, Zimbardo's former college friend. Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr wrote in 1981 that the Milgram experiment and the Stanford prison experiment were frightening in their implications about the danger which lurks in the darker side of human nature.
Zimbardo and his team set out to test the idea that the inherent personality traits of prisoners and guards were summarily key to understanding abusive prison situations. Participants were recruited and told they would participate in a two-week "prison simulation." Of the 70 respondents, Zimbardo and his team selected the 24 males whom they deemed to be the most psychologically stable and healthy. These participants were predominantly white and middle-class.
The "prison" itself was in the basement of Stanford's Jordan Hall, which had been converted into a mock jail. An undergraduate research assistant was the "warden" and Zimbardo the "superintendent". Zimbardo set up a number of specific conditions on the participants which he hoped would promote disorientation, depersonalisation and deindividualisation.
The researchers provided weapons -- wooden batons -- and clothing that simulated that of a prison guard -- khaki shirt and pants from a local military surplus store. They were also given mirrored sunglasses to prevent eye contact.
Prisoners wore ill-fitting smocks and stocking caps, rendering them constantly uncomfortable. Guards called prisoners by their assigned numbers, sewn on their uniforms, instead of by name. A chain around their ankles reminded them of their roles as prisoners.
The researchers held an "orientation" session for guards the day before the experiment, during which they were told that they could not physically harm the prisoners. In The Stanford Prison Study video, quoted in Haslam & Reicher, 2003, Zimbardo is seen telling the guards, "You can create in the prisoners feelings of boredom, a sense of fear to some degree, you can create a notion of arbitrariness that their life is totally controlled by us, by the system, you, me, and they'll have no privacy… We're going to take away their individuality in various ways. In general what all this leads to is a sense of powerlessness. That is, in this situation we'll have all the power and they'll have none."
The participants chosen to play the part of prisoners were "arrested" at their homes and "charged" with armed robbery. The local Palo Alto police department assisted Zimbardo with the arrests and conducted full booking procedures on the prisoners, which included fingerprinting and taking mug shots. At the prison, they were transported to the mock prison where they were strip-searched and given their new identities.
The experiment quickly grew out of hand. Prisoners suffered — and accepted — sadistic and humiliating treatment from the guards. The high level of stress progressively led them from rebellion to inhibition. By the experiment's end, many showed severe emotional disturbances.
After a relatively uneventful first day, a riot broke out on the second day. The guards volunteered to work extra hours and worked together to break the prisoner revolt, attacking the prisoners with fire extinguishers without supervision from the research staff.
A false rumor spread that one of the prisoners, who asked to leave the experiment, would lead companions to free the rest of the prisoners. The guards dismantled the prison and moved the inmates to another secure location. When no breakout attempt occurred, the guards were angry about having to rebuild the prison, so they took it out on the prisoners.
Guards forced the prisoners to count off repeatedly as a way to learn their prison numbers, and to reinforce the idea that this was their new identity. Guards soon used these prisoner counts as another method to harass the prisoners, using physical punishment such as protracted exercise for errors in the prisoner count. Sanitary conditions declined rapidly, made worse by the guards refusing to allow some prisoners to urinate or defecate. As punishment, the guards would not let the prisoners empty the sanitation bucket. Mattresses were a valued item in the spartan prison, so the guards would punish prisoners by removing their mattresses, leaving them to sleep on concrete. Some prisoners were forced to go nude as a method of degradation, and some were subjected to sexual humiliation, including sodomy.
Zimbardo cited his own absorption in the experiment he guided, and in which he actively participated as Prison Superintendent. On the fourth day, some prisoners were talking about trying to escape. Zimbardo and the guards attempted to move the prisoners to the more secure local police station, but officials there said they could no longer participate in Zimbardo's experiment.
Several guards became increasingly cruel as the experiment continued. Experimenters said that approximately one-third of the guards exhibited genuine sadistic tendencies. Most of the guards were upset when the experiment concluded early……………
Prisoner No. 416, a newly admitted stand-by prisoner, expressed concern over the treatment of the other prisoners. The guards responded with more abuse. When he refused to eat his sausages, saying he was on a hunger strike, guards confined him in a closet and called it solitary confinement. The guards used this incident to turn the other prisoners against No. 416, saying the only way he would be released from solitary confinement was if they gave up their blankets and slept on their bare mattresses, which all but one refused to do………..
it is compatible with the results of the also-famous Milgram experiment, in which ordinary people fulfilled orders to administer what appeared to be damaging electric shocks to a confederate of the experimenter……………
When the Abu Ghraib military prisoner torture and abuse scandal was published in March 2004, many observers immediately were struck by its similarities to the Stanford Prison experiment — among them, Philip Zimbardo, who paid close attention to the details of the story. He was dismayed by official military and government efforts shifting the blame for the torture and abuses in the Abu Ghraib American military prison on to "a few bad apples" rather than acknowledging it as possibly systemic problems of a formally established military incarceration system.
Eventually, Zimbardo became involved with the defense team of lawyers representing Abu Ghraib prison guard Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick. He had full access to all investigation and background reports, testifying as an expert witness in SSG Frederick's court martial, which resulted in an eight-year prison sentence for Frederick in October 2004.
Zimbardo drew on the knowledge he gained from participating in the Frederick case to write The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007), dealing with the striking similarities between the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Abu Ghraib abuses.………….
Experiments in the US
The Third Wave was a 1967 recreation of Nazi Germany by high school teacher Ron Jones in Palo Alto, California.
In April 2007, it was reported that high school students in Waxahachie, Texas, who were participating in a role-playing exercise fell into a similar abusive pattern of behavior as exhibited in the original experiment. ^ "Holocaust Lesson Gets Out Of Hand", Sydney Morning Herald, 11 April 2007.
Lord of the Flies, a 1954 novel by William Golding, in which a group of youths degrade into dictatorship
The Dispossessed, a 1974 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, in which the protagonist Shevek took the part of a jail guard in a childhood game with very similar conditions and outcome
**All this information needs verification
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