Discussion questions

  • Bearing in mind the outcomes of this research, could an attempt to replicate or extend our study be ethically justified?
  • If you had come into the study at a particular point, would you have realised that Prisoners and Guards had started off as matched groups? How have the groups changed over time and why?
  • Why did the Guards in our study not use many of the powers that they had? Do these reasons apply to groups in situations outside this study?
  • Would giving the Guards any more powers have made any difference to their behaviour?
  • Why did the Guards fail to organize themselves? Could this problem have been anticipated (e.g., on the basis of findings from the SPE)?
  • What does the impact of the introduction of a new Prisoner on Day 5 tell us about the impact of individuals on society and history?
  • At the start of our study, nearly all the participants – Guards as well as Prisoners – rejected even a mild form of inequality. But by the end they were moving towards acceptance of a far more unequal regime. Why did this happen?
What should we make of the study's findings?

What should we make of the study's findings?