The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment

One of the most infamous psychological studies
ever conducted was the Stanford Prison
Experiment. It’s mentioned in almost every
intro to psychology textbook. They tend to focus on
how unethical it was, and are less critical
of its supposed conclusion.August 14th, 1971.Palo Alto, California.Twelve young men are rounded
up from their homes by police,
placed under arrest,and brought to
a makeshift prison
in the basement
of Stanford University.
It all begins as a study on
the psychology of prison life,
led by Stanford psychology
professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo.
24 volunteers–12 guards
and 12 prisoners.
–have agreed to spend
the next two weeks
recreating life
in a correctional facility.
[guard]The prisoners are booked
and stripped nude.
They’re no longer
forced to wear smocks,
stocking caps and shackles.
Identified only by
their prisoner numbers.
The guards quickly adapt
to their new profession.
Given anonymity by
their mirrored sunglasses,
some of them start to control
the meager food rations,
restrict prisoners’
bathroom use.
And, as tensions rise,so do their cruel methods.Within just six days
of the planned two-week study,
conditions are so badthat the entire operation
is shut down.
[man] Goddamn it…The study makes international
Zimbardo’s fame skyrockets,and his conclusions are taught
to students worldwide,
used as a defense
in criminal trials
and are even submitted
to Congress
to explain the abuses
inflicted at Abu Ghraib.
The study brings up
a question
just as important then
as it is today:
is evil caused
by the environment,
or the personalities in it?Zimbardo’s shocking conclusionis that when people
feel anonymous
and have power over
depersonalized others,
they can easily become evil.And it occurs more often
than we’d like to admit.
But while it’s true that people
were mean to each other during the Stanford
Prison Experiment, what if what truly caused
that behavior wasn’t what we’ve always
been told?The Stanford Prison Experimenthas always had
its controversies.
But a wave of recent
have pushed it back
into the spotlight
47 years later.Today, I’m going to speak
with journalist Ben Blum,
whose recent writings
have brought criticism
of the experiment
to a larger audience
than ever before.How did you get involved in
the Stanford Prison Experiment in the first place? Well, my involvement
was quite personal. Like everyone,
I had kind of absorbed the basic lesson
of the experiment through the cultural ether. And then my cousin Alex
was arrested for bank robbery. This was a team of mostly
military guys with AK-47s. Alex was the driver. He was a 19-year-old
U.S. Army Ranger. And it was a superior of his
on the Rangers that organized and led
the bank robbery. Alex thought the whole thing
was a training exercise. He was just so brainwashed
in this intense Ranger training that when a superior proposed
this bank robbery, he took it as just one more kind
of tactical thought experiment. Then Dr. Philip Zimbardo
participated in his legal defense. Zimbardo submits a letter
to the court, advocating leniency
in sentencing on the grounds that Alex, my cousin,
had been so transformed by the social environment
of the Ranger battalion that he participated
in the bank robbery without exercising
his own free will. Well, how did that affect
Alex’s sentencing? He received an extraordinarily
lenient sentence of 16 months. So Zimbardo was a family hero. But over time, Alex,
finally he did admit to me, you know what, I knew this was
a bank robbery by the end, and I just didn’t have the moral
courage to back out. Oh, wow. Alex, myself and our
whole family came to view
the Zimbardo argument as a way to shirk personal
culpability, and to put all the blame
on the situation. So you start looking at the Stanford Prison
Experiment in particular. You reached out to Dr. Zimbardo
himself, as well as some of those
who participated. What did you learn? I learned,
to my deep surprise, that quite a number
of the participants had stories of their experience
that completely contradicted the official narrative. Which is, look,
these regular people, good people,
came together, and because of the situation,
became evil. [Ben]
Right. Zimbardo has claimed
that the guards were put in the situation, and then the kind of hidden
wellspring of sadism that apparently lies
in all of us unfolded organically. [Zimbardo] There was an orientation meeting
for the guards. They had been told
quite explicitly to oppress the prisoners. That falls under the heading
of what psychologists call demand characteristics. Experimental subjects
tend to be motivated to give experimenters
what they want. [Michael]
Demand characteristics occur
whenever participants
being studied
act differently
than they normally would
because they’ve guessed
what hypothesis is being tested
and feel that a certain kind
of behavior is being demanded.
There was a recording
of explicitly correcting a guard who wasn’t being tough enough. So a conclusion
you could make from the Stanford
Prison Experiment is that when you tell people
to be cruel, they’ll do it if you tell them it’s for a greater good,
like science. -Right.
-Who would have thought? I think the study stands still
as a fascinating spur to further more careful research as a demonstration that should
make anyone curious as to how such extreme behavior
could arise in such a short time. The experiment could still
be useful, but it might need to be
reinterpreted. Its data might lead
to different conclusions than the one that we’ve been
telling for so many decades. Right.The flaws in the experimentthat Ben and other critics
bring up
call into question large
portions of the narrative
surrounding the study.So I want to hear from someone
who was actually there.
Dave Eshelman, the study’s
most infamous guard,
agreed to tell me
his side of the story.
It’s really an honor
to meet you. You’re a living, walking piece
of psychology history. I’m never recognized in the
street or anything like that, although I still get
some hate mail. -Are you serious?
-Yeah, absolutely. Well, what do you say to them
when they react that way? I say, well, there’s probably
a lot about that that didn’t happen quite the way
it’s been portrayed. Well, Dave,
before we go too far, I’d like to watch the footage
we have here so we can kind of talk about
what we see. [Dave]
That’s me there, by the way. -[Michael] Look at that look.
-[Dave] Mm-hmm. So how did you get involved with
a Stanford Prison Experiment? My father was a professor
at Stanford, and I was home for summer,
looking for a summer job. So I’m looking
through the want ads. $15 a day. You know,
in 1971 that wasn’t bad. The way it was introduced
to the guards, the whole concept
of this experiment, we were never led to believe that we were part
of the experiment. We were led to believe
that our job was to get results
from the prisoners, that they were the ones
the researchers are really studying. The researchers
were behind the wall. And we all knew
they were filming. And we can often hear
the researchers commenting on the action
from the other side of the wall. You know, like,
“Oh, gosh, did you see that? Here. Make sure you get
a close-up of that.” Okay? So if they want to show
that prison is a bad experience, I’m going to make it bad. But how did you feel
doing stuff like that? Didn’t you feel bad? I don’t know if this
is a revelation to you, but 18-year-old boys are not
the most sensitive creatures. -Sure.
-My agenda was to be the worst guard
I could possibly be. -And it’s pretty serious.
-Mm-hmm. This is my favorite part
of all the footage we have -from the experiment.
-Mm-hmm. It’s you and a prisoner
confronting each other after the experiment. I remember the guy saying,
“I hate you, man.” -Yeah.
-“I hate you.” Each day I said, well,
what can we do to ramp up what we did yesterday? How can we build on that? Why did you want
to ramp things up? Two reasons, I think. One was because
I really believed I was helping the researchers
with some better understanding of human behavior. On the other hand, it was personally
interesting to me. You know, I cannot say that I
did not enjoy what I was doing. Maybe, you know,
having so much power over these poor,
defenseless prisoners, you know, maybe you kind of
get off on that a little bit. You weren’t entirely following
a script from a director. Right. But you also felt like Zimbardo wanted something
from you. -Yes.
-And you gave that to him. I believe I did.
I think I decided I was going to do a better job
than anybody there of delivering
what he wanted. But does that excuse me
from what I was doing? Certainly it started out
with me playing a role. So the question is, was there
a point where I stopped acting and I started living,
so to speak? The standard narrative is that
Dave Eshelman did what he did because when people
are given power, it’s easier than we think
for abuse to happen. That may be true, but how predisposed
to aggression was Dave? I mean, he signed up
to something called a “prison study,” after all. Also, his feeling
that cruelty was encouraged and helped the experiment,
may have affected his behavior. What I’d like to see is, in the absence
of outside influence, can anonymity, power,
and depersonalization alone lead to evil?To answer that question,I’d like to designa demonstration of my own.So I’m meeting
with Dr. Jared Bartels
of William Jewell College,a psychologist who has written
about the Stanford
Prison Experiment
and how it is taught.I would love to do the Stanford
Prison Experiment again. You could probably make it
more ethical, but still find the same
conclusions. That’s my hypothesis. I absolutely think
it’s worthwhile. It’s important.
It’s interesting. Probably the best approach is eliminate as best as possible
the demand characteristics by eliminating that
prisoner/guard dynamic. Why do we even need to call one
group “guards” and one “prisoners”? There’s a lot of expectations around those roles. Oh, I’m a guard? -I guess I should act like a
-Yeah, you’re right. The cover story is really
important, and you want to hide the true
purpose of the experiment. Another piece of this
is the role of personality and personality traits. So the original ad
in the Stanford study asked for participants
for a study of prison life. You know, that’s going to draw
certain people that were more kind of disposed
to aggression. [Michael]
Because they saw the word
“prison” and thought, -“I want to be a part of that.”
-Exactly. So when you get a group of kind of authoritarian-minded
individuals together, not surprisingly
they’re going to create an authoritarian regime
and environment. So, for whatever it is that
we’re going to do, we should evaluate
the personalities of the individuals. Right. So how do we give people
every opportunity to be as evil as they can? I think you have
to have those elements that were assumed
to be influential in the Stanford study. What are those elements? You have to have
the depersonalization. You have to have anonymity. You have to have some power
differences. Can we elicit
some surprising behaviors in just a number of hours? If you kind of come back
to the Stanford study, there wasn’t anything dramatic
that happened -in the first day of the study.
-Yeah. It was the second day
of the study when the guards started to
assert their authority. That came about because
of prisoners testing and challenging the guards’
authority. [Michael]
Yeah, and that led to fear. That, like, wait a second,
these prisoners need to be -put more in check.
-Yeah. Yeah. So I think you still need
that provocation. Yeah. Something that is frustrating. Something that’s going
to increase the participants’ arousal. Right. All right, so, Jared, would you like
to spend some time now brainstorming a new design that peeks into the same
questions? -Absolutely.
-Awesome. [Michael]
Jared and I sat down
with the Mind Field crew
to begin the planning process.Will a person,
without any expectations or pushes in a certain direction
still be abusive or not?For this demonstration,we want to eliminate
all outside variables
and really isolate
the three core elements
of the Stanford Prison
The first element
is anonymity.
Subjects need to believe
that no matter how they behave,
no one will know
it was them.
This is where people will be
coming in in the morning. This way, everyone’s going to be
staggered when they come in. That’s important,
because we don’t want them to ever meet their teammates
face-to-face.The original experiment
gave guards anonymity
by providing mirrored
sunglasses and uniforms.
But we’re taking it
much further.
Our study will take place
in a room that is pitch-black.
They’ll be taken into this room. [Michael]
Ah. I would love to see how dark this room is going to be
tomorrow. [man]
Yeah, absolutely. -You ready?
-I’m ready. -Oh, yeah.
-[man] Right? [Michael]
This is uncomfortable.Despite the darkness,we will be able
to see everything,
thanks to infrared cameras.The second element
is depersonalization.
From the moment
the subjects arrive,
they will only be identified
by number, not name.
So, come on in.To eliminate the demand
we don’t want our subjects
to know what we’re studying.
Follow the sound of my voice,
if you can.All they’ll be told
is that we are studying
how they solve puzzles
in the dark.
There is another team
in a different location. -who is also solving a puzzle.
-Okay.Because the words
“guard” and “prisoner”
suggest certain
expected behaviors,
we’ve done away with themand will simply give
our participants an unseen,
distantly located
opposing team.
We will measure
the cruelty predicted
by the standard narrativeof the Stanford
Prison Experiment
by giving our participantsa way to exercise
the third element: power.
What I’m going to show you next
is the system by which you can send them
a loud noise. -Okay.
-So if you want to…We’ve armed the teams
with a “distractor button”
that they can press to blast
an extremely loud,
jarring noise
into the other team’s room.
Everyone will have
a volume dial
that ranges from level 1 to 12,and they’ll be told
that anything below a 7
should be safe
for the other team’s hearing.
And each person
has their own control. Okay. So they can’t see
what you’re doing. -You can’t see
what they’re doing.
-Okay.The intensity level
they select,
as well as the frequency with
which they push the button,
will be our indicator
of how aggressive
the participants become
in this situation.
Is it– is it pretty,
like, terrible to hear? Well, I’ll give you
a demonstration. Hey, Derek, could you play
level 3 for me? [loud, discordant horn] So that’s a 3. It’s pretty… -it’s pretty loud.
-Yeah. Perfect.Participants will be told
that when they
or a member of their team
pushes a distractor button,
the volume played
in the opponent’s room
will be determined by
the highest level selected
on any of their
teammates’ dials.
This is to increase the feeling
of diffused responsibility.
The question is,
will any of these participants
take advantage of these factors
and act sadistically?
Of course, we would never
want anyone
to actually be harmed
in our experiments,
so the other team?They don’t exist.Instead, Jared and I
will be the ones
occasionally blasting
the group with noise
at a safe level,
no higher than a 3.
To see just how powerful
the situation can be,
we selected participantswho would not be predisposed
to sadism.
We screened
our participants
using the “Big 5
Personality Scale,”
“The Personality
Assessment Inventory,”
and picked those who scored
the highest
in “moral” categories,like honesty
and conscientiousness.
It looks like,
you know, they should be able
to see each other. But it’s pitch-dark. There are puzzle pieces
on the table in front of you. Thank you, and once I leave
the room you may begin. Okay, here we go. [man 1] [man 2] [man 1] I definitely don’t think
they’re conscious of the control panel
at this point. -No.
-They’re trying to get focused
on the task here. [man 1] [man 2] [man 2] [laughter] [man 2] We picked people
who were most likely to have these kinds
of personalities. [man 1] [laughs] [woman] -Oh.
-She wants… [woman] All right. [all] [man 1] -[high-pitched squeal]
-[woman]Did somebody do it
-I did.
-Okay. -We should retaliate.
-Yeah, retaliate now. [loud, discordant horn] [all laugh] [horn blares] [laughter] [Michael]
Now, they’re not retaliating against that most recent buzz. Shall we try again? [loud, discordant horn]Despite the factors making it
easy for them to do so,
this team doesn’t appear
to be turning evil.
Now they are, like,
just deal with it. Just ignore it and keep
working together. They’re not interested
in retaliating. [discordant horn blares]Over the course
of the two-hour study,
we blasted them with noise
23 times.
[woman laughs]But they only pushed the button
six times,
and never above a level 5.They didn’t seem
to abuse their power.
Puzzle pieces down.What would happen
if we introduced
demand characteristicsthat encouraged them
to act aggressively?
Your team has been
randomly assigned an experimental condition. Although the other team will continue working
on a puzzle, your team will not. Your only task is to operate
the distractors. Also, the other team’s buttons
have been disconnected without their knowledge. You will not hear any sounds
if they buzz back at you. We introduce
the social roles, where there’s a little bit
of power differential. We’re kind of mimicking the
Stanford-like variables here. [Michael]
By now saying that the buzzer
is their “task,”
the participants may feela greater license
to use it liberally.
Similar to how instructing
prison guards
in the original experiment
to act tough
may have encouraged
more use of force.
[man 3] [woman] [man 1]Even though they were
given instructions
to distract the other team,
these participants instead
just started chatting
with one another.
They know that they can be
distracting now, but they’re not pushing the
button. No. [man 2] Oh. Okay. [woman] A couple of threes. [high-pitched squeal]Over the course of ten minutes,this group only pushed
the button three times.
Why do you think
they’re so uninterested in blasting
the other team? Because we have individuals
who have been selected, really, with that predisposition,
right? These are individuals who shouldn’t be interested
in retaliating.It was time to debrief
the participants
on what we were
actually studying.
I’m going to turn the lights on. Here I am. I’m Michael,
and this is Jared. We’re going to debrief you on
what was really happening today. There are no other people. You are the only four here at
this moment. There was never another team
doing anything. [man 1] This is a study related to
the Stanford Prison Experiment. [man 1] The standard narrative
we hear about that experiment is that people
just become cruel. So, yeah, we’re trying to see if
we get the nicest people we can, and we give them complete
anonymity and the ability to be cruel,
but never encourage them to, will they still do it? And you guys didn’t. Did you have any suspicions
about what we were studying or what was going on? Right, but I think
that’s good. We just want to make sure
you don’t think that what we’re really
looking at is how high you turn
your own dial. That’s really
what we’re looking at.It was time to bring in our
second group of participants,
who, like the first group,
were screened to be individuals
with high morality
Anything up to 7
should be safe. [laughs]
Yeah. [woman]
So once I leave,
you can go ahead
and get started.
[woman 1] [laughs] Oh… [high-pitched squeal] Right off the bat she went to 7
and pushed the button. Yeah. [loud, discordant horn] [high-pitched squeal] [Michael]
Number two’s pushing it at a 3. [discordant horn blares] [woman 1] Okay, here comes number two. [high-pitched squeal] Number two is still
at a volume 3. [Michael]This team seemed
more willing to retaliate.
Let’s see what will happen
if we continue buzzing them.
Will they escalate
their behaviors?
Derek, let’s blast them again.
Number 3. [loud horn] Okay, let’s… All right, so two just pushed
at a 3. But she’s not touching the dial. [Jared]
She’s not. [loud, discordant horn] [woman 2]
It’s just annoying. [blaring horn] [high-pitched squeal] [all laugh]It was clear
that participant number two
was really the only one
hitting the distractor button,
but it appeared that she only
did it in retaliation
to our buzzes.So we decided to see
what would happen
if we laid off.[man 1] It’s been probably
four or five minutes, and we have not blasted them
with the noise, and they haven’t
played one either. I have a feeling like if we
never played a noise in their
room, they would never touch
the distractor button. [Jared]
Probably not at this point.In the end, we buzzed
this group a total of 44 times,
and they buzzed us 38 times,37 of which came
from number two
but always in retaliation,
and never above a 5.
All right, guys.
Puzzle pieces down.The situational factors
did not seem to be sufficient
to make this group sadistic.It was time
for phase 2.
[woman 1] Yeah. -Oh, she…
-[high-pitch squeal] It looks like it’s at 7. -Wow.
-Yeah, she’s– She’s going nuts.
At a 7. So number three believes
there is no other team. That might explain why she was
just going nuts on the button, because she doesn’t feel bad
about it. [buttons clicking] Okay, they’re all pushing
the button a lot more. And they were told
this time that it was their
only task. [buttons clicking] [all laugh] What a difference
this has made. Just like in the Stanford
Prison Experiment. If you tell people that they have a certain task
to do, they’ll do it, even if it’s going to mean
that they’ve been broken. The thing is, they never hit
upon what we really cared about, which is turning the dial
into an unsafe level. Yeah. [buttons click] [Michael] Hello, everyone.
I’m going to turn the lights on
in this room. [woman 1]
Okay. -And slowly…
-Ah, it hurts. …you can look. So, hello. -I’m Michael,
and this is Jared.
-Hi. I’ll give you time
to adjust your eyes. Today, you’ve been part
of a study where all we wanted was to see what would happen
when we put people in a room and gave them that feeling
of anonymity that comes from, well, if I crank my dial up
really high, no one will know
it’s me. So you have this opportunity
to be cruel. I thought
I went nuts. Like, when the other person
was pressing– Sure, but that’s–
that’s just in-kind retribution. As it turns out,
so far, everyone stays in that
“below 7 or under” range. -Yeah.
-This final phase was us trying to ramp up
the demand characteristics. And I believe number one, right,
you did say at one point, “You’ve broken me.
I did it, fine.” So I loved that phrase,
because it says “I didn’t want to do this, but I’m doing it because I
believe it was expected of me.” [all]
Thank you. Thanks. [Michael]After dismissing
our participants,
Jared and I sat down
to discuss our results.
Really fascinating. We brought in people who had
very different personalities than those Zimbardo chose. We put them in a situation that
did not demand things from them. And they behaved according
to that personality. I think we have some intriguing
support for the idea that it’s more than just
the situation. We really saw personality
kind of shine through. For the most part,
they seemed to be aware -of where that line is…
-Yeah. …that they shouldn’t cross,
and they didn’t. None of them did.It was now time to speak
with the man himself,
Dr. Philip Zimbardo,who I worked with
on last season’s episode,
“How to Make a Hero.”Okay. Lisa, Bear,
you guys ready?For years, Dr. Zimbardo
has responded to criticisms
of his famous study,always maintaining
that they aren’t valid.
I asked him about
whether his study
is better seen
as one on the power
of demands from authority,but he wasn’t receptive
to that idea.
I then told him about the study
we ran to get his reaction.
I wanted to know what the
sufficient conditions might be to make anyone
do something evil. And we struggled
to get that to happen. We couldn’t get anyone
to be cruel. Just giving them anonymity,
and a dehumanized other, and the power
to hurt that other, they didn’t take
advantage of it.Well, I mean,
maybe the problem was,
here’s a case where,
by picking people
who were extremely
extremely mindful,by selecting people
who are high on compassion,
high on mindfulness,you broke the power
of the situation.
In the Stanford
Prison Experiment,
we had, I presume,a relatively normal
We gave them
six personality scales.
And we picked people who,
in the scales,
who were mostly
in the mid-range.
In that situation,some people behave cruelly,
Not everybody, but more
of the guards than not.
So, again, I think that
your study is a demonstration
of one way in which personality
dominates situation.
-Where the personalities are–
so I would say
it’s a positive result.
The personalities
are special.
Where does this balance lie
between the personal, the disposition,
the personality, and the situation,
the environment?No, that’s the big–that’s the ultimate question.Where is, you know,
how much of one
and how much of the other…?Right. Zimbardo insists
that demand characteristics played little role
in his subject’s behavior. Critics like Ben Blum
say they played a big role, that what happened
was what was asked for. If that’s true, then the Stanford
Prison Experiment, like the classic Milgram study,
still has an important lesson. People are quick to be cruel if an authority figure suggests
that doing so will serve a greater cause. In our test, we made sure that
such influences didn’t exist. And not one participant
acted maliciously. Personality rose above
the situation. Learning how that happens
is vital if we want to improve conditions
where power is involved. So it’s great that this debate
is still ongoing. And look, questioning methods
and interpretations is not a personal attack. It’s how we improve
our confidence in what we know. And that’s how science works. So stay curious,
never stop asking questions, and, as always,
thanks for watching. Hey,Mind Field.
Michael Stevens here. There is so much more
to satisfy your hunger for psychological knowledge
right on this show. Click below to check out
more episodes.

Comments (100)

  1. The didn't see the reaction of other "team". So they wouldn't be able to enjoy the dominance.

  2. I'm here pretty late but authority is the difference. Milgram experiment

  3. Honestly, put me in that room and I will sleep. Idc about that buzzer, that dark room is a motherf*ckin' DREAM!!

  4. goddamit stanford pines what did you do this time?

  5. Michael: "só I am going to make a littel experiment of my one"

    Me: wait what?

  6. Thanks Michael. This program is fantastic!

  7. Idk man i still dont like the guards

  8. I still don't know what to say about this experiment. Bechause they did not give the participants what the guards had… which is authority. They reviewed it as 2 teams of equal standings pretty much. They guards knew they were in a position of power over the others so they could be cruel if they wanted to bechause the others were prisoners wich is a lower 'society rank' than any other. Also… they pressed the buzzer alot after one of them concluded there's no team 2 . They pressed it at safe levels just in case she was wrong. So they did not really exclude that part out of the equation. However i still think that running this longer would have produced greater results as well as the prison experiment concluded after 2-3 days.

  9. Why you didn't pick a team with a inclination towards aggression and cruel traits ?

  10. Thats how all these dictators stay in power { Russia }

  11. Hi Michael, I'm not a Psychologist but I felt that what your experiment was lacking was pressure. When the stakes are high, like in prison, people get to their last resorts and that I would consider a valid setup to assess if personality is really the main factor. Thanks for reading.

  12. That dude with the three girls in the puzzle room is definitely baked?

  13. В России это сегодня не эксперимент , а целая рабочая система ) пинетициарная система , зэки охраняют зэков , и в карантинах ломают психологически , ломают как личность , пытаясь сделать из тебя безличное существо , не спрашивая даже твоего согласия на подобное содержание . Кто там не был не поймёт , кто окажется поседеет и этот фильм покажется ему театром на неделю , зная что год длится как два , день сурка в таком состоянии покажется вечностью.

  14. i w i l l s t i l l n o t p a y f o r y o u t u b e r e d

  15. Ironically, the Stanford Prison Experiment supports Stanley Milgram’s conclusions rather than Phil Zimbardo’s. A person in a lab coat (authority figure) hinted that he wanted these “guards” to be cruel to these “prisoners” and they obeyed.

  16. Your new experiment has an external validity problem. Your sample is not representative of the general population because you’ve excluded high frequency personality traits.

  17. Jared looks like Vsauce's evil twin.

  18. test different personality types and see if the results deviate. perhaps include one less gentle personality within a group of gentle personality types like tested here. if one person is predisposed to turning the dial up, kinder subjects might follow suit. this experiment by its nature gives them the ability diffuse responsibility, so maybe add a confederate to turn the dial up. theres lots of ways to set the thought in the mind of the subjects that nothing will happen if they turn the dial up. also having range of volumes while still kept within reasonable limits will offset suspicion that the "other team" doesnt exist. it might raise suspicion if the subjects hear a consistent volume. convincing the subjects that the parameters you set are in fact the real parameters of the experiment is difficult. people are more aware these days how a typical experiment works. perhaps screening for subjects who arent familiar with psychology would help.

  19. What I've learned: The cause justifies the means.

    If any of you're actions are justified by a "for the greater good", if you're given a role of "importance" that affects the goal, if you're expected to act in a certain way and you do, it's almost certain that you'll be doing anything to fulfill the goal or task (aka the expectations) which doesn't exclude cruelty, torture, etc…
    I think that those who comply to what I wrote above have morals like any human, but those morals are not so valuable, so central to them that these can transcend a task they "must" accomplish if they're incentivised.
    This is not to say that those who would comply are bad people, rather that morality may not be their priority…This is mostly directed to the common themes between the Milgram and Stanford experiments.

  20. A rather flawed experiment as your subjects were not receiving immediate feedback and/or gratification from their supposed distractions.

    It's seems obvious from the participants that they didn't even believe there was anyone on the receiving end.

    …almost as if trying to get genuine emotion from artificial intelligence.

    If your action does not produce tangible results, why act…?

  21. This guy seems like a real uh, pin head

  22. You should do this again, but put in 4-6 year old kids

  23. The internet is proof that people can be evil when anonymous.

  24. Ok why the heck is this like my school

  25. #3 in the 2nd group was mad thicc, juss sayin'

  26. Him and Jared bartels look exactly the same

  27. 7 and a half minutes in and I can see plain as day this was a repeat of the milgram's experiment. people blindly follow the orders of those they perceive to be in authority. even if that authority is represented by a mere lab coat, a badge, a business title or a military or political position. damn just look at trump and see what insane hoops he has cabinet and the GOP jumping through. trump has no real authority to demand people commit crimes, or cover them up on his behalf. but these idiots do it anyway! AND NO! I would NOT be that compliant BECAUSE I posses EMPATHY and am guided and live by ETHICAL PRINCIPLES! in other words – I'm not an idiot.

  28. guys what happens at 32:25 with michaels voice?

  29. I find it funny how the woman was the first one to suggest in being agressive first…

    And the second group which had "more agressive" individuals was mainly made up of women too, and a woman once more was the first to suggest about being agressive and buzzing the other team, first.

  30. Where was the study group with malicious/sadistic characteristics? It should have been mixed to see how other types influence others.

  31. This reminds me a little of the Dark Knight, where the Joker loaded 2 ferries with explosives. One ferry had convicts and the other had ordinary people and both had a trigger to the other's explosives.

  32. Total stoner at 26:13

  33. I dont believe youtube would allow any factual information thats beneficial to society. Its just like cable programming.

  34. Why doesn't that guy admit further, he should be punished for hurting people…Men like power to hurt there is no fokin way a lady wouldve hurt people like that hence proving men should not be put into positions of power or given weapons.. hence end of violence and war… let them duke it out by hand…i bet that mistreated fellow would have served the 18 year old prison guard a lesson with a 1, 2 punch.

  35. One issue with the study is that there an equal number of guards as prisoners. Definitely not the norm in modern prisons.

  36. We ladies would just lock up feed and let the evil die of loneliness

  37. This was a terrible recreation of the Stanford experiment. There is so much lost in translation. For sadists, to see a person react, that's what would make the differences. The arousal of having someone naked and degraded in front of you doesn't compare to buzzing faceless people in some other room

  38. where the hell are the views counts ???

  39. Lol. Can you imagine this happening at an American university today? College kids nowadays are having panic attacks just by the sight of a police officer 😀

  40. why is he not dead yet?

  41. I think they definitely carefully picked the prisoners, they didn’t put your average prisoner in their with the makeshift guards otherwise it wouldn’t have ended well for the guards. This experiment was flawed from the beginning once you manipulate a certain part of the experiment (the guards) to be a certain way. And when it comes to the prisoners, a lack of guilt is probably why they felt like they were being so wronged. It’s quite funny how they picked Stanford university, you won’t find a lot of your typical alpha males there…not in a physical sense anyway.

  42. Now I wanna see them do this with absolute assholes

  43. He should’ve created a control sample with a random selection of people and compared their behavior to the group of people with high levels of compassion.


  45. Damn those are some nice chairs

  46. Interesting experiment. I can see how this relates to ISIS and Islamic radicalization.

  47. Adding competition between the group's and achievable puzzles might have got a better reward

  48. I think the dude in the second team was high xD

  49. I dont know… I mean hearing that guard talk to the prisoner made me feel like he still felt like he held power over him. I mean look at the body language, and look at the expressions.. hes not sorry, and he doesnt have remorse. It wasnt just an experiment to him. He enjoyed it. I feel like, people's personalities definitely make a difference. They placed a person who enjoys having control, in control. That's your outcome, abuse of power.

  50. conscientious people would never work in prisons in the way that they're currently set up, they need people who thirst for power and have lax morals to enforce unjust laws. prisons should not be about revenge or punishment, they should be about safety and rehabilitation. stripping someone of their freedom is a bad enough (and necessary for the safety of others) without abusing, dehumanising and degrading them as well.

  51. The VSauce experiment was not comparable enough. The main factor for me was the complete anonymity. Sadism feeds from seeing people's pain and fear from your actions. You're not gonna get that in the VSauce experiment. Sadistic tendencies will not come out in this way and also the experiment was very short. I doubt the guards were super cruel within the first 10 minutes of the experiment. This was a false equivalent.

  52. What year did this take place?

  53. I want YouTube white


  55. Just imagine how long modern university students would last in a similar experiment.
    3 hours?

  56. Much too short an experiment. Would need to be 5-6 days to even come close to match the original. Would need a thousand different people with controls and double blind conditions. Not scientific at all. Not saying that the Stanford experiment was very scientific either though.

  57. How do I tag all the Hong Kong police Dec/2019

  58. Anyone know what that chill ass music at 31:59 is called?

  59. Somehow, our preacher has stumbled upon this video and has been using this video and its topic as an example to Illustrate how Science ultimately corrupts and contributes to the degenerecy of human nature compared to the glorious, infallible and cleansing teachings of the bible.

  60. Of it was pitch black why was number 2 wearing glasses???


  61. This is basically the whole of India’s problem!!!!!!!!

  62. After watching the differences in Michael’s experiment from the original Stanford experiment, I couldn’t help but wonder if the environment of the time had a significant effect on the results. The Stanford experiment took place in the 70s, when we still used leaded gasoline and atmospheric lead levels were high. Lead exposure has been linked to many deleterious effects, including, most relevantly, aggressive and violent behavior in humans. It’s even been suggested that the lead level drop is the primary driver of the decreased rates in violent crime in the late 20th century. Nearly 50 years later, Michael’s experiment shows very different results from the Stanford experiment. I certainly don’t disagree with the procedural issues discussed in the video, but I can’t help but wonder if lead exposure contributes to these outcomes.

  63. Both teams guessed that there wasn't another team playing. I wonder what might happen if there had been another team. If they assumed there wasn't another team, though there was, and acted as the second group had, what might be happening among the other, hypothetical team? If there was another team, though, would they have decided that there was, or wasn't? Would they still have reacted the same way after deciding there was another team?
    I also have to wonder how this experiment might have gone with people who had other traits. For example, a group chosen according to how logical they tend to be, or a group chosen with moderate morality.

  64. I will also add the fact that east pal alto in the mid 70"s to mid 80"s had a very high crime rate, and a very bad reputation for being considered not safe due to the high homicide rate and armed burgulary cases per capita. I will also add that the risk of becoming a victom was much higher if you were of certain race. And the obvious limits where one became at risk of personal harm was marked by strict and abrupt segregation of skin color,I happen to know this because I grew up in a neighborhood very close to "EPA" and was well aware of the boundaries in which I felt safe even as a young child. I noticed that the test subjects of primarily one race in the original study. Given the location where they ran an ad in order to gathered these individuals I have to wonder if this at all had any influence on the disposition of the participants ?

  65. i have this annoying friend at school who won't stop talking about the probably fake Russian sleep experiment. this reminds me of that

  66. woow Dr Jared and VSauce looked like twins or Brothers

  67. I still find it deeply troubling how easy it was for many of the students (assigned the guard roles) to conform to the demands of having to be the tough guard.

  68. Anyone else watching in school

  69. One thing I think would be interesting would be to see if the reason they were so uninterested in being evil was because they couldn’t see the other people they were being evil to.

  70. I wonder what would happen if you created a team equally comprised of those with High moral guidelines and those who don't possess those characteristics…

  71. I'm aware of this experiment. But here is the thing. In a real prison environment the guards would foster other guards to be more tougher and aggressive by attrition. You are dealing with dangerous criminals and being soft can get you killed. So coaching them to be more tough would be a common situation in the experiment. But the loss of identity and forgetting that it's not real is like being caught up in an identity ideological roll. We see this on many scales in identity politics as each group divided and makes their own identity and ideologically possessed behavior abandoning part of individuality and replacing it with the ideological roll or possession. Being a guard as an identity requires positive aggression to ward off aggression.

  72. Yeah. You want cruelty, look no further than communist brainwashing, they think they are so great and equality is the only goal they will murder and kill innocent individuals who refuse to conform. All of these people thought they were kind and benevolent and wouldn't hurt anyone but when brainwashed into thinking others are massively evil with ist's and ism's, these benevolent left-wingers murdered over 60 million people in horrific ways making nazis socialists look like mr Rodgers.

  73. Excellent study! Do it again and tell them that the level has to be at least a 9 to get your desired results even though it will hurt the other team and see what happens

  74. Dear Michael Stevens and YouTube,

    I believe people can be taught not to be evil, or at least it is worth a fair try as the one teaching them to be heroes. Kids enter kindergarten without willingness to share and are taught to share. Often they have the urge to hit a friend and they are taught not to do so, etc….

    It would be great if you'll use your power to devise and conduct programs that will teach kids in kindergartens in as many countries as possible to be mindful of other people. In the era when youtube is being blamed for allowing evil commercials and so on, that would be a great answer and a wonderful service to worldwide society.

    And as always, thanks for sharing (with us these great observations through your mind field series).

  75. the problem is that they knew they were being watched. no one would damage the other groups hearing while they were being watched.

  76. Didnt know michael had a balder twin

  77. In the dark puzzle one i dont think even the most evil person would send a 12 cause they know they would get one right back

  78. I believe that the participants did not buzz back frequently because they could not see the other 'team'. If the participants could see the other side they would specifically target people that they thought were more sadistic or mean in nature, because they could not label and enemy they were not as inclined to fight back

  79. Jokes on youtube premium i already watch mind field ad free cause i got ad block

  80. Check out my cover band, The Mumford Andson Experiment

  81. It's curious that on earlier videos the like and dislike number is hidden, here It's Wide open… Are we in some sort of experiment? Perhaps…

  82. the thing that both sides dont understand is that there are a lot more factors than authority or personality that could determine whether someone would act cruel or not. the same person might act cruel at one time but if the situation happened years later they might not. the state of mind that person is in at that time, their outlook on life, their position in society, their prior experience with oppression or privilege factor in imo

  83. Doing a puzzle in the dark is way too different then the Stanford experiment. They still NEEDED the prisoner/guard dynamic, just without telling them to act tough on the prisoners. How hard was that to understand? Why not recreate it without that. Have the prisoners as actors who consent to handle maybe a tough situation or arent scared to be put in a situation as long as they knew someone would stop things if they got too bad

  84. Quick answer: Yes, if u give power over others to people, they will turn evil

    I found this out by giving my friend cmmds on my sever, and he was blowing up people’s houses

  85. That theme fucking slaps

  86. You definetly saw a case of boredom here. Rather hurting others (or themselves) then be bored. It wasn't long enough for this to fully come out. But it was peeking behind the corner.

  87. The ppts aren’t put in a position of authority over the fake group therefore it’s not a true representation of his people may act.

  88. I think this was really interesting. My only concern with this experiment is that the groups kept coming to the conclusion there was no one else so they didn't take it as seriously. What would've been great I think is if you had two teams at the same time in two different rooms doing the experiment, showed each team video of the other team at first so they knew they were there. However, they were tested separately and had no connection to each other when it comes to sound.

  89. because they're not face to face and the physical contact isn't real

  90. The results are similar to the Milgram Experiment – people behaving the way they are told to or the way they believe they are expected to act given a predetermined purpose/goal. It seems most humans will readily compromise their standards/morals if convinced there is value in doing so. 🙁

  91. but in prison they saw the people that they deal with so isnt that throwing the study off?

  92. I dont believe for a second the Ranger thought that was a training op

  93. The factor they are missing here is time. When rules of civilization are stripped away, people gradually shift to cruelty. But the switch takes time.

  94. But how is Jared a psychologist if he can’t read?

  95. I would love to see this experiment with normal people

  96. I want to see people not predisposed to be nice /and/ free of the pressure/order to do it, what would they do?

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