Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Was the Prison Experiment an Experiment?

Michael Britt (hi Michael!) just emailed an excellent question to the Society for Teaching of Psychology listserve, and I thought the Teaching High School Psychology blog community might like to think about his question too. Michael asked: Is Zimbardo's prison study an experiment? Does it meet the criteria for experiments? I often discussed the ethical issues involved in the study but I think its interesting to think specifically about the methodology, and it might be a good exercise for students to think about what criteria a study needs to meet to "qualify" as an experiment, then examine the Prison study to see if it meets those criteria.

Posted by Rob McEntarffer


Rob Mc said...

And I'll post the first contribution to the discussion too :) I think maybe the toughest part of the Prison study to figure out is the dependent variable, and specifically how they thought they were operationally defining it (or them if there's more than one?)

Anonymous said...

In his text book, Psychology and Life, Zimbardo (co-author Gerrig) list many behaviors that were recorded for prisoners and guards including:
deindividuating reference
use of instruments
individuating reference