1. Examining volunteer characteristics
Ask a group of people (e.g., those in your class) to complete the psychometric test to assess authoritarianism. Ask them to compute their score and to write this on a sheet of paper. On the sheet they also indicate whether or not they would consider participating in a study like ours.
Collect in the sheets and compute a mean authoritarianism score for the two groups (those who would consider participating and those who would not).
Are there any differences either (a) in the proportion of people in the two groups or (b) in the two groups' mean scores? What are the implications of this?
Carnahan, T. & McFarland, S. (2007). Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment: Could participant self-selection have led to the cruelty? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 603-614.
2. Anticipating findings
Before they find out about our study’s findings, explain the design of the study to a group of people by providing them with information in the "setting up" section of this website.
After this, ask the group to anticipate the way the study will develop. Specifically, they should answer the following questions:
- How will the Prisoners and Guards feel and behave at the start of the study?
- What will happen as the study progresses? Why?
- Will the study run into ethical problems? Why (or why not)?