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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 133 Be Successful And Happy > Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo

In 1971, young psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, brought together a group of student volunteers, splitting them into prisoners and guards in the notorious Stanford Prison Experiment. Its results still shock the world


Just two days into the Stanford Prison Experiment, designed by Dr Zimbardo to observe the psychological effects of authority and submission in the prison system, one volunteer prisoner had to be released from the study after a breakdown. The findings were incredible. Intelligent young men assigned to be guards became sadistic and merciless towards the ‘prisoners’ – their fellow students. Volunteer prisoners lost their identity and all sense of freedom in hours. Zimbardo, too, became consumed by the study. The experiment has helped give clarity to the workings of prisons, and theories about why torture occurs in security centres such as Abu Ghraib.

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