Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

Scan 142870001-1 nemila "And seizing him by the throat, he said, 'Pay what you owe'!.

In 1971, the American psychologist Philip Zimbardo set up an experiment in Stanford University to explore the interaction between prison staff and their prisoners. Zimbardo discoverd 3 types of guards in the study:
- one type was tough, but treated the prisoners fairly as long as they were obedient;
- another type was benevolent, doing small favours for prisoners and never punishing them;
-  and a third type seemed to relish the power they had, finding ever more imaginative ways to hurt prisoners and abusing them when they thought they were not being observed.
Zimbardo's experiment seemed to uncover a dark aspect of human nature:
a willingness or even an eagerness to harm others for no good reason just because they could.
He felt that anonymity aided the descent into cruelty, and the position of authority that the guards were given enabled it to happen. People quickly slipped into the roles assigned to them, so it's not possible to say whether the 'evil' guards acted out of innate evil that is usually suppressed or whether they were, at least in part, acting in the way they thought fitting for their role. Unlike the Nazi prison guards, no one had told them to be cruel. Where did it come from?
Zimbardo has said that in these situations, past and present disappear and only the gratification of the moment counts. People do things without considering the consequences  or the reason. And no one can say that he or she would not do it. That is why it's so frightening.

'Any deed that any human being has ever committed, however horrible, is possible for any of us - under the right circumstances. That knowledge does not excuse evil; it democratizes it, sharing its blame among ordinary actors rather than declaring it the province of deviants and despots - of Them but not Us. The primary lesson of the Stanford Prison Experiment is that situations can lead us to behave in ways we would not, could not, predict possible in advance'. (Philip Zimbardo).

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