Reality and artifice
Yes. In particular, it is clear that the two main interventions that we had planned (on the basis of social identity theory) had an impact on participants’ behaviour.
First, the manipulation of permeability associated with initially allowing promotion from Prisoner to Guard and then disallowing it, served to increase Prisoners’ sense of shared social identification and hence their resistance.
Second, the manipulation of cognitive alternatives associated with the introduction of the new Prisoner – the trade unionist, pDM – provided both Prisoners and Guards with a new vision of ways in which their relationship could be defined.
Evidence of this impact is provided by both qualitative behavioural data and quantitative psychometric tests. In particular, results on psychometric measures showed that Prisoners’ willingness to comply with Guards’ instructions decreased after promotion was ruled out, and all participants’ sense of cognitive alternatives increased after pDM had been introduced.
For us, the interventions are similar to the manipulations in an experimental study. They were theoretically designed in advance to investigate the factors that shape group identification and resistance.