Abu Ghraib Case Study

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Abu Ghraib Case Study

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Remembering the Abu Ghraib torture scandal

National security is the ideology that is used to justify torture in Brazil. Zimbardo obtained the images while testifying as an expert witness for U. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Zimbardo said a study of abandoned cars in certain neighborhoods shows that a sense of anonymity can encourage vandalism by ordinary-looking individuals. The Stanford experiment, a planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life using college students, had to be ended prematurely after only six days when the guards became sadistic and the prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.

Zimbardo said that in addition to poor training and supervision, the same psychological forces that were at work in the Stanford experiment were present at the Abu Ghraib prison and that the findings of the experiment should have been a forewarning to the military about possible dangers of abuses of power. Zimbardo said the military court disregarded his testimony and held Frederick responsible for his actions, saying that the soldier should have known to do what was right. After eight years, when he gets out he will have nothing. Quoting Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a victim of Soviet repression and the gulag prison system, Zimbardo said, "The line between good and evil lies in the center of every human heart.

Zimbardo said that unless systemic forces, including poverty, racism and military conditions like those that existed in Abu Ghraib are recognized and changed, imprisonment alone will never eliminate the problem of evil behavior and there will always be a bad apple at the bottom of the barrel. Zimbardo said the final chapter in a new book that he is writing, which shares its title with the lecture, will address how good people can be made to continue doing good and shun the path of evil.

An internationally recognized scholar, educator, researcher and media personality, Zimbardo recently received the Havel Foundation Vision 97 Award. For further information and applications, come to room Jordan Hall, Stanford University. The applicants were predominantly white, middle class, and appeared to be psychologically stable and healthy. The group of subjects was intentionally selected to exclude those with criminal backgrounds, psychological impairments, or medical problems. On a random basis, half of the subjects were assigned the role of "guard nine plus three potential substitutes ," half were assigned to the role of prisoner also nine plus three potential substitutes.

The day before the Stanford prison experiment officially began, the participants playing "guards" were given uniforms and equipment, specifically chosen to mimic the de-individuating uniforms professional prison guards and military often wear. The experiment was conducted in a foot The prison had two fabricated walls, one at the entrance, and one at the cell wall to block observation.

In contrast, the guards lived in a different environment, separate from the prisoners. The guards were given access to special areas for rest and relaxation. Zimbardo took on the role of the Superintendent and an undergraduate research assistant , David Jaffee, took on the role of the Warden. The researchers held an orientation session for the guards the day before the experiment, during which "guards" were instructed not to harm the prisoners physically or withhold food or drink, but to maintain law and order. The researchers provided the guards with wooden batons to establish their status , clothing similar to that of an actual prison guard khaki shirt and pants from a local military surplus store , and mirrored sunglasses to prevent eye contact , and induce anonymity.

The small mock prison cells were set up to hold three prisoners each. There was a small corridor for the prison yard, a closet for solitary confinement, and a bigger room across from the prisoners for the guards and warden. The prisoners were to stay in their cells and the yard all day and night until the end of the study. The guards were told to work in teams of three for eight-hour shifts.

The guards were not required to stay on-site after their shift. The prisoners were "arrested" at their homes or assigned sites, "charged" with armed robbery, and burglary, Penal Codes , and The local Palo Alto police department assisted Zimbardo's team with the simulated arrests and conducted full booking procedures on the prisoners at the Palo Alto City police headquarters, which included warning of Miranda rights, fingerprinting and taking mug shots. Meanwhile, three guards prepped for the arrival of the inmates.

The prisoners were then transported to the mock prison from the police station, sirens wailing. In the Stanford County Jail they were systematically strip searched , given their new identities Inmate identification number , and uniform. Prisoners wore uncomfortable, ill-fitting smocks and stocking caps, as well as a chain around one ankle. Guards were instructed to call prisoners by their assigned numbers, sewn on their uniforms, instead of by name, thereby dehumanizing prisoners. The prisoners were then greeted by the warden, who conveyed the seriousness of their offense and their new status as prisoners.

With the rules of the prison presented to them, the inmates retired to their cells for the rest of the first day of the experiment. Guards referred to prisoners by their identification and confined them to their small cells. Prisoners refused to leave their cells to eat in the yard, ripped off their inmate number tags, took off their stocking caps and insulted the guards. In response, guards sprayed fire extinguishers at the prisoners to reassert control.

The three back-up guards were called in to help regain control of the prison. They attempted to dissuade any further rebellion using psychological warfare. For cutting off further acts of disobedience, the guards separated and rewarded prisoners who had minimal roles in the rebellion. The three spent time in the "good" cell where they received clothing, beds, and food denied to the rest of the jail population.

After an estimated 12 hours, the three returned to their old cells that lacked beds. Guards abused their power to humiliate the inmates. They had the prisoners count off and do pushups arbitrarily, restricted access to the bathrooms, and forced them to excrete in a bucket in their cells. Prisoner began to show signs of a mental breakdown, he began screaming in rage. Upon seeing his suffering, research assistant Craig Haney immediately released Witnessing that guards divide prisoners based on their good or rebellious behavior, the inmates started to distance themselves from one another. Rioters believed that other prisoners were snitches and vice versa. Other prisoners saw the rebels as a threat to the status quo since they wanted to have their sleeping cots and clothes again.

Prisoner began showing symptoms of distress: he began crying in his cell. A priest was brought in to speak with him, but declined to talk and instead asked for a medical doctor. After hearing him cry, Zimbardo reassured him of his actual identity and removed the prisoner. When was leaving, the guards cajoled the remaining inmates to loudly and repeatedly decry that " is a bad prisoner. The day was scheduled for visitations by friends and family of the inmates in order to simulate the prison experience.

Zimbardo and the guards made visitors wait for long periods of time to see their loved ones. Only two visitors could see any one prisoner and only for just ten minutes while a guard watched. Parents grew concerned about their sons' wellbeing and whether they had enough to eat. Some parents left with plans to contact lawyers to gain early release of their ward. On the same day, Zimbardo's colleague Gordon H. Bower arrived to check on the experiment and questioned Zimbardo about the independent variable in play.

Furthermore, Christina Maslach visited the prison that night, and was distressed by observing the guards abusing the prisoners, forcing them to wear bags over their heads. She challenged Zimbardo about his lack of caring oversight, and the immorality of the study. Finally, she made evident that Zimbardo had been changed by his role as Superintendent into someone she did not recognize and did not like. Her direct challenges prompt Zimbardo to end the SPE the next day. Due to Maslach's outrage, the parents' concerns, and the increasing brutality exhibited by guards in the experiment, Zimbardo ended the study on Day 6.

Zimbardo then met for several hours of informed debriefing first with all of the prisoners, then the guards, and finally everyone came together to share their experiences. Next, all participants were asked to complete a personal retrospective to be mailed to him subsequently. Finally, all participants were invited to return a week later to share their opinions and emotions. Later, the physical components of the Stanford County Jail were taken down and out of the basement of Jordan Hall as the cells returned to their usual function as grad student offices.

Zimbardo and his graduate student research team, Craig Haney and Curtis Banks, began compiling the multiple sources of data that would be the basis for several articles they soon wrote about their experiment, and for Zimbardo's later expanded and detailed review of the SPE in The Lucifer Effect According to Zimbardo's interpretation of the SPE, it demonstrated that the simulated-prison situation, rather than individual personality traits , caused the participants' behavior. Using this situational attribution , the results are compatible with those of the Milgram experiment , where random participants complied with orders to administer seemingly dangerous and potentially lethal electric shocks to a shill.

The experiment has also been used to illustrate cognitive dissonance theory and the power of authority. Participants' behavior may have been shaped by knowing that they were watched Hawthorne effect. Zimbardo instructed the guards before the experiment to disrespect the prisoners in various ways. For example, they had to refer to prisoners by number rather than by name. This, according to Zimbardo, was intended to diminish the prisoners' individuality. One positive result of the study is that it has altered the way US prisons are run. For example, juveniles accused of federal crimes are no longer housed before trial with adult prisoners, due to the risk of violence against them.

Shortly after the study was completed, there were bloody revolts at both the San Quentin and Attica prison facilities, and Zimbardo reported his findings on the experiment to the US House Committee on the Judiciary. There has been controversy over both the ethics and scientific rigor of the Stanford prison experiment since nearly the beginning, and it has never been successfully replicated. Some of the guards' behavior allegedly led to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations.

Ethical concerns surrounding the experiment often draw comparisons to the similarly controversial experiment by Stanley Milgram , conducted ten years earlier in at Yale University. Milgram studied obedience to authority. With the treatment that the guards were giving to the prisoners, the guards would become so deeply absorbed into their role as a guard that they would emotionally, physically and mentally humiliate the prisoners:.

He was then deloused with a spray, to convey our belief that he may have germs or lice[ Our goal was to produce similar effects quickly by putting men in a dress without any underclothes. Indeed, as soon as some of our prisoners were put in these uniforms they began to walk and to sit differently, and to hold themselves differently — more like a woman than like a man. Conclusions and observations drawn by the experimenters were largely subjective and anecdotal , and the experiment is practically impossible for other researchers to accurately reproduce.

Erich Fromm claimed to see generalizations in the experiment's results and argued that the personality of an individual does affect behavior when imprisoned. This ran counter to the study's conclusion that the prison situation itself controls the individual's behavior. Fromm also argued that the amount of sadism in the "normal" subjects could not be determined with the methods employed to screen them. In , digitized recordings available on the official SPE website were widely discussed, particularly one where "prison warden" David Jaffe tried to influence the behavior of one of the "guards" by encouraging him to "participate" more and be more "tough" for the benefit of the experiment. The study was criticized in for demand characteristics by psychologist Peter Gray, who argued that participants in psychological experiments are more likely to do what they believe the researchers want them to do, and specifically in the case of the Stanford prison experiment, "to act out their stereotyped views of what prisoners and guards do.

Other critics have argued that selection bias may have played a role in the results due to the ad describing a need for prisoners and guards rather than a social psychology study. The experiment was perceived by many to involve questionable ethics, the most serious concern being that it was continued even after participants expressed their desire to withdraw. Despite the fact that participants were told they had the right to leave at any time, Zimbardo did not allow this. Since the time of the Stanford prison experiment, ethical guidelines have been established for experiments involving human subjects.

Before they are implemented, human studies must now be reviewed and found by an institutional review board US or ethics committee UK to be in accordance with ethical guidelines set by the American Psychological Association US or British Psychological Society UK. A post-experimental debriefing is now considered an important ethical consideration to ensure that participants are not harmed in any way by their experience in an experiment.

Though Zimbardo did conduct debriefing sessions, they were several years after the Stanford prison experiment. By that time, numerous details were forgotten; nonetheless, many participants reported that they experienced no lasting negative effects. If there is an unavoidable delay in debriefing, the researcher is obligated to take steps to minimize harm. When acts of prisoner torture and abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were publicized in March , Zimbardo himself, who paid close attention to the details of the story, was struck by the similarity with his own experiment. He was dismayed by official military and government representatives' shifting the blame for the torture and abuses in the Abu Ghraib American military prison onto "a few bad apples", rather than acknowledging the possibly systemic problems of a formally established military incarceration system.

Eventually, Zimbardo became involved with the defense team of lawyers representing one of the Abu Ghraib prison guards, Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick. He was granted full access to all investigation and background reports, and testified as an expert witness in SSG Frederick's court martial , which resulted in an eight-year prison sentence for Frederick in Zimbardo drew from his participation in the Frederick case to write the book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil , which deals with the similarities between his own Stanford prison experiment and the Abu Ghraib abuses.

Their results and conclusions differed from Zimbardo's and led to a number of publications on tyranny, stress , and leadership. While Haslam and Reicher's procedure was not a direct replication of Zimbardo's, their study casts further doubt on the generality of his conclusions. Specifically, it questions the notion that people slip mindlessly into roles and the idea that the dynamics of evil are in any way banal. Their research also points to the importance of leadership in the emergence of tyranny of the form displayed by Zimbardo when briefing guards in the Stanford experiment.

The Stanford prison experiment was, in part, a response to the Milgram experiment at Yale, which began in and was published in In , The Third Wave experiment involved the use of authoritarian dynamics similar to Nazi Party methods of mass control in a classroom setting by high school teacher Ron Jones in Palo Alto, California with the goal of vividly demonstrating to the class how the German public in World War II could have acted in the way it did.

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