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The Stanford prison experiment (SPE) was an attempt to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power, focusing on the struggle between prisoners and prison officers.
It was conducted at Stanford University between August 14–20, 1971, by a research group led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo using college students.
Zimbardo and his team aimed to test the hypothesis that the inherent personality traits of prisoners and guards are the chief cause of abusive behavior in prison.
Participants were recruited and told they would participate in a two-week prison simulation.
Zimbardo designed the experiment in order to induce disorientation, depersonalization, and deindividuation in the participants.
The group was intentionally selected to exclude those with criminal backgrounds, psychological impairments, or medical problems.The prisoners were transported to the mock prison from the police station, where they were strip searched and given their new identities.