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Katie Panuska Asher John English 103-83 Formal Research Proposal October 12, 2010 Psychological Effects on Prisoners and Guards In August 1971, the head of the psychology department at Stanford University, Philip Zimbardo, was interested in learning and understanding the development of norms and the effects of labels, roles, and social expectations in a prison environment. In order to do this, Zimbardo created a simulation of a prison, and had twenty-four college students act as the prison guards and prisoners. In the end Zimbardo and his colleagues concluded that people internalize the roles they play. The experiment had several psychological effects on the participants such as uncontrollable sobbing, screaming, and aggression. The prisoners and guards, who internalized their roles, began to forget that this was just an experiment and started taking things seriously. For my research project, I want to research the psychological impact on the participants in the Stanford Prison Experiment. What was the purpose of the experiment? Who thought of the experiment, and who designed it? What were the results of the experiment, and did it prove anything? By researching the answers for these questions, I hope to better understand the psychological effect on prisoners and prison guards, and how we internalize the roles we play. Methods First, I want to approach my topic through the background of the experiment. I will begin with how the experiment was designed and how they picked the participants. Then I will explain what happened during the experiment, such as what the guards did to the prisoners and how the


prisoners reacted. After explaining this, I will justify the conclusion and results that Zimbardo and his colleagues developed from the experiment. Then, I will then explain about how all of the people involved internalized their roles as the prison staff. By doing this, I will then further be able to analyze the psychological impact on the participants. Next, I will look at the psychological effects that were put upon the participants. For example, what were these effects and are they still affecting the participants today? I will research to see if there were any other effects besides psychological effects, and explain them if there were. I’ll give examples from a prisoner’s point of view and from a guards point of view. Sources To begin my research, I will be looking at the official website, by Philip Zimbardo, for the Stanford Prison Experiment. This website will provide me with the information about exactly what happened during the duration of the experiment. I will be able to see what happened between the prisoners and guards. This will also help me to see how each participant internalized their role. Finally, this website will provide me with the point of views of a prisoner and prison guard. I hope to avoid many other websites as much as I can, but there are not many books about the Stanford Prison Experiment. I also plan on using an excerpt from The Lucifer Effect, a book written by Philip Zimbardo. This excerpt is about internalizing roles, or how “good” people are capable of evil acts. Along with this excerpt, I will be using a book review that was written over The Lucifer Effect. The book review also talks about internalizing roles and some of the psychological effects, but more in depth. Another excerpt that I plan on using for a source is “Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment: a Lesson in the Power of Situation.” This was written by Philip


Zimbardo and is about why he did the experiment, and how it affected the participants in the experiment. He also talks about how when people are given power, it takes over their minds. This is also known as internalizing roles. The last book that I will be using a psychology textbook to help analyze the psychological effects on the participants. It will help me to better understand the effects and if they can have any harm on someone years after they have happened. There are also a couple psychology websites about the Stanford Prison Experiment that I will be getting details from in order to help me with this. Timeline 10/12- Research proposal due 10/12-10/14- Search for books on the Stanford Prison Experiment, psychological effects 10/14-10/19- In-depth research with official website psychology textbook, and books that I find (primary sources) 10/19-10/21- Look over notes, and write a thesis statement. Have peers look over my thesis. Finalize the primary sources I’m going to use. 10/21-10/26- Outline my paper 10/26-11/4- Write first draft 11/9- First Draft due 11/9-11/10- Have peers edit my first draft 11/10-11/11- Make changes, if needed, to the first draft. 11/11- Final Draft due Purpose The reason I am researching this topic is because I want to better understand the psychological effects put upon prisoners and prison guards. I also hope to better understand how people internalize roles that they play. I feel compelled to study this topic further because in the future, I hope to be a psychologist or counselor. Psychology is a topic that I find interesting, and some of the psychology studies that have taken place are fascinating. Significance


The Stanford Prison Experiment is significant to the psychoanalysis of our prisons today. The experiment caused the world to see what happens in prisons and places similar to it. It has made prisons today get major media coverage for their happenings. It also has helped us shape our prisons today in a way that what happened in the experiment, rarely occurs in our prisons today. Bio As a student at Ball State University, I’m writing this paper because psychology is one of my major interests. My minor is currently psychology, but I plan on switching it to my major. I will use my degree in psychology to become a counselor, hopefully in prisons. I have written several other papers over different psychology topics such as different psychology between genders and how different genders act about certain things, and the psychology behind the segregation acts back in the 1960s.

Research Proposal  

Proposal for a research paper over the psychological effects of the Stanford Prison Experiment, and how people internalize roles.