Flashcards in Reicher & Haslam, 2006 (Prison) ⭐️ Deck (25):
What is tyranny?
An unequal social system involving the use of power by one group over another.
What was the background of the study?
The Stanford Prison (Zimbardo 1973) had shown guards were very willing to be cruel and brutal to prisoners. He concluded that the role they had been asked to play explained their behaviour.
In a group, people are anonymous and lose their sense of personal identity.
What is Social Identity Theory?
Our personality is influenced by the group we belong to (social identity) and that we class other groups as "we and them".
What was the aim of the study?
To investigate the way people respond to a system of inequality (tyranny) in a prison situation.
What is the method of the study?
Experimental case study.
-Experiment: Interventions (IV) were introduced at specific points.
-Case study: detailed study of only one group of people.
Describe the participants.
-15 male volunteers
-Divided into 5 groups
-3 people (in each group) matched as closely as possible on personality variables (e.g. racism, authoritarianism and social dominance).
-Each group, one person randomly chosen as a guard.
-Other two were prisoners.
-One prisoner was not involved at the beginning.
How were the participants chosen?
332 male volunteers were sought through national newspapers and leaflets which is then reduced to 27 through screening involving psychometric tests. The final 15 were chosen to ensure diversity of age, social class and ethnic group.
What were the three planned interventions (3 IVs)?
Describe the procedure.
Prisoners were allocated to lockable 3-person cells off a central atrium. This was separated from the guards quarters by a lockable steel mesh fence. There were facilities throughout for video and audio recording. Various measures (DV) were taken (not every day because this would have overwhelmed the participants). The guards were told the night before the study began that they were responsible for the smooth running of the institution and that they must respect the basic rights of the prisoners. They were allowed to lock prisoners up, see into prison cells and use rewards and punishments. The guards had far better living conditions.
Participants were told that the guards are selected because of certain personality characteristics, and also that if prisoners showed these traits they could be promoted. This created "permeability". After the guard was chosen (randomly), they were told no more promotions.
After three days participants were told that there were actually no differences between guards and prisoners but it would be impractical to reassign participants. This meant that the group division was after all not legitimate.
Describe cognitive alternatives.
On day four, prisoner 10 was to be introduced. He was chosen because of his background as a trade union official and therefore it was thought that he might provide the skills to negotiate and organise collective action.
What was the DV/ what was measured?
-Psychometric Tests: Social factors (how aware of alternatives they were), Organisational factors (how they felt about obeying the rules) and clinical factors (depression).
-Ps gave daily swabs of saliva to measure hormones associated with stress.
Results: Describe phase 1 (rejecting inequality)
Rejecting inequality (day 1 to 6): Prisoners showed little group identification until the groups became impermeable after promotion. The guards hated the power which resulted to bad leadership and prisoners did not see them as legitimate authority figures. When the final prisoner was brought in (day 5) he sped up the process of being aware of cognitive alternatives. As the prisoners became more organised their self efficacy went up and depression went down. The guards were the opposite. On the evening of day six the prisoners broke into the guards quarters to put an end to the first regime.
Results: Describe phase 2 (embracing inequality)
(Day 7 to 8) Participants met with the researchers to discuss a new way of organising the study- this involved them all sharing the daily tasks. It worked but those plotting against the old regime felt marginalised in the new system and within a day they had moved from failing to contribute to actively breaking commune rules (e.g. Smoking in "no smoking" areas). By the morning the new system was in crisis and tyranny was about to develop.
What does the study show?
The events happened not because of the groups the participants belonged to but because of the failure of the groups. This leads to tyranny.
What were the four critiques?
-Lab experiment: no control group, role of TV (SDB)
-Role of personality: Ps personality changed over time (personality cannot explain course of events)
-The reality of inequality and power (guards didn't use their power, prisoners expressed dislike of being locked up)
-The impact of interventions and key variables (something else could have affected the DV, permeability, legitimacy)
What were the strengths of the method used?
-High level of control (Ps and prison environment)
-Cause and effect to be established (effect of IVs can be seen on group behaviour)
-High experimental realism (quite high EV as Ps acted naturally)
-Lots of data collected (8 days)
-Study gained approval from an ethics committee and was stopped before the situation became too aggressive.
What are the weaknesses of the method used?
-High level of control= low EV (not real prison/prisoners/guards)
-Broke protection (levels of aggression and tension were high)
How representative was the sample?
-Chosen to reflect a wide variety of variables (age, social class and ethnicity)
-All male & volunteers- not fully representative of British population.
What type of data was collected?
-Quantitative: psychometric tests (hormone levels)
-Qualitative: observations and self reports about their time there.
What would you change?
-Sample (15 males): use a bigger sample and include women (doesn't represent female population), it'll be more representative and is easier to generalise from, it'll cost more and time consuming.
-Method (low EV) use observations and self reports from real prisoners and guards. May not want to do it and time consuming. Best to use "real" people who experience it daily as observers.
What day was the promotion?