The Zimbardo experiment – what exactly was it?

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Louise Barnett
Louise Barnett
I'm Louise Barnett, the editor at, where my days are filled with the exploration of myriad subjects that pique my curiosity and feed my ever-growing appetite for knowledge. From the latest in laser cutting technology to the timeless wisdom of yoga and meditation, my work allows me to dive deep into topics that not only fascinate me but also have the potential to improve our daily lives. I have a particular interest in how ancient practices meet modern life, leading me to explore everything from Ayurveda to minimalism and beyond. My journey has taught me the importance of balance—between innovation and tradition, action and reflection, and between the digital and the natural world. Each article I publish is a step towards understanding this balance better, hoping to inspire others along the way.

The Zimbardo experiment is one of the most famous and controversial psychological experiments. It was conducted in 1971 by a professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Philip Zimbardo.

What was the Zimbardo Experiment?

The Zimb ardo Experiment is one of the most famous psychological experiments of all time. Conducted by Professor Philip Zimb ardo in 1971 at Stanford University, it was designed to test how personality and situation can affect human behavior. Twenty-four volunteers were selected for the experiment and divided into two groups – prisoners and guards. Participants in the experiment were to undergo a series of psychological tests to make sure they were mentally healthy. They were then assigned to roles and stayed in a specially prepared prison for six days.

Zimbardo experiment – the course of the experiment

One of the most famous psychological experiments, conducted by Professor Zimbardo, was designed to determine how personality and situation can affect human behavior. The experiment consisted of dividing the participants into two groups – prisoners and guards. The former wore special costumes, and their task was to carry out the guards’ instructions. The latter, on the other hand, were tasked with controlling and supervising the prisoners’ actions. The experiment was supposed to last a week, but Zimbardo decided to stop it after a few days, as he found that the participants began to manifest mental problems.

Research and conclusions – Zimbardo experiment

During the experiment, the “prisoners” were subjected to various forms of control and discrimination by the “guards.” The results of the experiment were very interesting – it turned out that those who played the role of “guards” began to behave more and more aggressively and ruthlessly towards the “prisoners”. In contrast, those who played the role of “prisoners” became apathetic and powerless.

Theconclusions of Zimbardo’s experiment are very important for psychology and for all of us. They show that personal characteristics and environment have a huge impact on our behavior. We are often aware of this influence, but sometimes we may be unaware of it. Therefore, it is always worth keeping this in mind and remembering that each of us can behave in ways we would not like to, if only we are in the right environment and situation.

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