Paper Example: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Published: 2023-04-05
Paper Example: The Stanford Prison Experiment
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology Penal system Mental health Ethical dilemma
Pages: 2
Wordcount: 525 words
5 min read

The Stanford prison experiment describes an experiment of social psychology that tries to undertake an investigation concerning the associated psychological impacts of perceived power, placing emphasis on the struggles between prison officers and prisoners (HeroicImaginationTV, 2020). In the experiment, volunteers are assigned the roles of prisoners or guards in mock prisons by the flip of a coin. However, the experiment goes beyond a prescribed ethical standard of research practice as some guards are seen enforcing authoritarian measures hence subjecting certain prisoners to psychological torture (HeroicImaginationTV, 2020). Some prisoners can be seen as expressing no interest in the experiment but are harassed actively by attempting to resist. Despite the fact that participant has the right to withdraw from the experiment, they were suppressed and denied the opportunity to withdraw, an act that is unethical.

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In the Milgram experiment, a psychological experiment is undertaken on obedience to authority figures (BigHistoryNL, 2020). The practices go beyond ethical practices participants are extremely exposed to tormenting situations that might potentially lead to psychological effects (BigHistoryNL, 2020). Most of the participants are undressed hence causing tension leading to sweating, trembling, and biting lips. Furthermore, some patients who fall victim to certain ailments plead to be exempted from the experiment but are not allowed to leave; this goes against the freedom of withdrawal in experimental research, an act that is unethical.

Both the Stanford prison experiment and the Milgram experiment go against ethical principles. For instance, they go against autonomy which is an ethical principle that dictates that other people's decisions concerning their own life must be respected, a situation that never happened in both experiments since participants find it rough to cease participation (Rajamani, 2020). Moreover, the ethical principle, of beneficence, is violated in both experiments. The principle states that other peoples' actions should promote the good being of an individual. However, the actions in both of the experiments, such as suppressions, harassment, and removal of clothes, fail to abide by the principle of beneficence (Rajamani, 2020). Also, the ethical principle of non-malfeasance is breached. The principle maintains that one should avoid any activity that might cause harm to others. Though, it is evident in both videos that the acts of the "guards" such as torturing caused a lot of harm to the "prisoners." Finally, the two experiments failed to adhere to ethical stewardship, which encourages just, equality, and fair treatment of other people (Rajamani, 2020). Individuals in both of the experiments are unequally treated as some of them get more severe torture than others. This brings forth discrimination, which is an unethical practice in a research experiment.

Conclusively, the two videos demonstrate useful experimental research that would contribute to knowledge to various scholars. However, the experiments fall sort of some limitations. The unethical practices evidenced in the experiments go against human rights hence making the studies unacceptable and inapplicable in real-life situations.


BigHistoryNL. (2020). Milgram Experiment - Big History NL, threshold 6 [Video]. Retrieved from

HeroicImaginationTV. (2020). The Stanford Prison Experiment [Video]. Retrieved from

Rajamani, S. (2020). 38211799 nursing-ethics. Retrieved 17 February 2020, from

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