Do All Humans Have a Cruel Nature Within Them? - William Juckett

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It is human nature to be affected by those around us, which lead to the study of social psychology. I choose Chapter 13 (Social Psychology) as the subject of my first blog entry. What I found most interesting when reading through this chapter were the different experiments dealing with the study of social psychology, one in particular was the Stanford Prison Study. In this study Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues set up a prison scenario using 24 volunteers, 12 "prisoners" and 12 "guards." Within six days of the start of the experiment it was shut down due to the how the prisoners were being treated. The guards became so drunk with power that they went beyond just keeping the prisoners contained and under control, they began to treat the prisoners extremely cruel and subject them to sever punishment.
The results of this experiment make you wonder what was triggered in the minds of the guards that would cause them to force these "prisoners" into such harsh conditions. When the guards were given power over the prisoners some instinctive animalistic trait surfaced causing them to have the drive to torment these prisoners. Our book refers to this experiment as more of a "demonstration," and I agree with this conjecture; this experiment was more of an observation of how the human race changes when simply given power over others. In my opinion because these guards were given a power over these other individuals, a power without much structure there to guide the direction it should be executed, it became easy to abuse. The human race needs structure to survive.

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I have seen a video about this experiment in the past and I found it to be very alarming. I think that the situations that we are placed in can have a huge impact on what goes on in our heads. The guards' craze and abuse of power is a good example of how people act when they are given control. It is like the saying, "When you give them an inch, they take a mile." Well, the guards took a mile and were power hungry. The prisoners were also influenced by their environment. They were constantly being told negative, and to be frank, horrific, things about themselves. On top of verbal abuse, they were put through things that would be socially humiliating. This experience put them in much distress and in some ways even changed their personalities. This just goes to show that we are strongly influenced by our environment.

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This page contains a single entry by juck0010 published on January 25, 2012 10:07 PM.

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